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Lusitania telegraph machine loss due to poor practice – Peadar Tóibín TD

27 July, 2017

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Heritage, Peadar Tóibín TD, has welcomed the recovery of the telegraph machine from the wreck of the Lusitania.

He however questioned the practices which resulted in the loss of the telegraph machine – that is that Minister Humphreys allowed an unsupervised dive  without archaeological methodology to occur.

Teachta Tóibín, who is the Chairperson of the Committee of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said;

“The Lusitania is a site of huge archaeological and historical significance, and also holds the remains of the 1,201 people who perished on it.

"I had previously raised concerns surrounding the dive made to the Lusitania ship wreck which was undertaken without archaeological methodology.

“I have documentary evidence of the opposition expressed by the National Museum of Ireland and the National Underwater Archaeology Unit to the unsupervised dive.

"However this unsupervised dive which operated outside of standard methodology was given by Minister Humphrey’s department. This resulted in the loss of the telegraph – a vital piece of the doomed ship’s equipment.

“While I welcome the retrieval of this important artifact, found accidentally by recreational divers, I am appalled at how the Department responsible for the preservation of our heritage ironically facilitated the effective destruction of that heritage.

“I have asked for clarification as to why the policy of the department was not more rigidly followed. Sites such as these are to be investigated only under certain conditions with strict archaeological methodologies and oversight. An answer has still not been provided.

“The NMI and her department have statutory responsibility for the protection of this important archaeological site, which for over two decades has been subject to an Underwater Heritage Order.

"While it is sheer luck the telegraph has been found, my concern is that this break in the practice of safeguarding our heritage has not a once-off. The Minister needs to uphold her office and actively endeavour to protect our heritage.”

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