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Minister should back up claims about protecting heritage

31 August, 2007

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has called on Government Chief Whip Tom Kitt to support a motion that he will bring forward in the next Dáil term to protect and preserve Ireland's culture and heritage. Responding to news that Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham is to undergo a major redevelopment and restoration programme Minister Kitt said it is vital that "we do not become complacent about our heritage". However Deputy Ferris accused Minister Kitt of paying lip service to our heritage as his Government has allowed important historical artefacts to be sold off to the highest bidder.

Deputy Ferris said today, "Last year, within the same month the government commemorated the 90th Anniversary of the Easter Rising and then stood by while some of the most important historical artefacts in relation to the 1916 Rising were sold off to the highest bidder.

"This week, while welcoming the decision to redevelop and restore Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham, the Government Chief Whip and local TD Tom Kitt said it is vital that we do not become complacent about our heritage adding that we must strive to protect it.

"While I welcome both the restoration of Pearse Museum and the Minister's comments in relation to it, I genuinely hope that he is sincere in his comments.

"The State has the legal authority to declare an historical site a national monument. It also has the power to issue compulsory purchase orders on lands in certain circumstances. Similar powers should be put in place for historical items such as those about to be sold off.

"In the next Dáil term Sinn Féin will seek to introduce legislation to prevent this sell-out of our heritage. We will also call for the area around the GPO/O'Connell Street and Moore Street to become a historical quarter in the run up to the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising with an emphasis on education and tourism.

"If the Minister is genuine about protecting our heritage then I would call on him and his Government colleagues to work with Sinn Féin and support our motion. If he does not support the motion then I suspect that he is merely paying lip service to our heritage." ENDS

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