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Damage and loss at the Lusitania wreck site must not be repeated - Peadar Tóibín TD

1 March, 2017

Sinn Féin Peadar Tóibín TD has raised concerns concerning a dive made to the Lusitania ship wreak which was undertaken without archaeological methodology. Speaking at the Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Oireachtas Committee, the Committee Cathaoirleach an Teachta Tóibín stated that: 

 “This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. It is also a significant War Grave holding the remains of well over 1000 people. It has been, I understand, the policy of the department that sites such as these would only be investigated under strict consents which contained strict archaeological methodologies and oversight.

 “There has been a clear break in this practice. Both the National Museum of Ireland and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs have had statutory and policy-related responsibility for this important wreck site, subject to an Underwater Heritage Order, for more than two decades. This was for the purpose of ensuring that the valuable historical items are properly recorded and not damaged

 “The recent decision by the Department has brought that to an end. It has come to my attention that an unsupervised dive was undertaken without archaeological methodology and was consented to by the department against the will of the National Museum of Ireland and the National Underwater Archaeology Unit. 

 “This dive resulted in damage to an important historical and archaeological object and its subsequent loss. The Minister has questions to answer. Why did this significant change in the protection of our archaeological heritage happen? Did the Minister make the decision and is it a once off, or will it set a precedent with regards all other wrecks and war graves around the country?”

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