Heritage Council funding cut to be less severe

THE Heritage Council is confident that its funding cut from the Department of the Environment is now set to be less severe than originally expected.

THE Heritage Council is confident that its funding cut from the Department of the Environment is now set to be less severe than originally expected.

A funding cut of 47% was announced in the Government's 2011 budget last month, but now it seems at least some of the money will be provided in order to fund various Heritage Council grant schemes.

"We are now going to get an upward adjustment (over the figure announced in December), which will allow some of the grants to operate – because we were in a situation where there would have been no grants programme," said Heritage Council chief executive Michael Starrett.

The exact figure for their funding from the Department of the Environment for 2011 will be included in the final Book of Estimates, which will be published in the coming weeks.

The Heritage Council had expected a reduction in its funding for the year, having already faced a 30% cut in 2010, but a 47% came as a shock to the organisation.

"This gives us something to build on in the future, because if it had been as bad as it was, it would have been very difficult to find any resources to do any of our grant programme," Mr Starrett said.

Mr Starrett made the comments on Thursday afternoon after giving Senator David Norris, a hopeful presidential candidate, a tour of the Heritage Council's national headquarters, located in the former Bishop's Palace on the grounds of St Canice's Cathedral.

Mr Starrett also informed the senator about the Heritage Council's proposed Landscape Ireland Act, which would encourage and enable local communities to be more involved in the preservation and promotion of the landscapes in their area.

The Heritage Council submitted the proposal to the Department of the Environment in December and expects to hear a response within six months.