Heritage Council forced to axe grants
on 18/08/2012 00:00:00
There was just €1.35m available this year for heritage research, conservation, and education that the public could apply for.
In previous years the council had between €3m to €4m to spend, mostly on roof repairs so basic structures could be maintained.
The council's communications manager, Isabell Smyth, said the council had a budget of €6.3m this year, money that was spent on maintaining critical heritage infrastructure that had been built up over the past decade.
"There will be absolutely no funding available for the public next year because of the cutbacks," said Ms Smyth. "The money will not be there unless we get an increase in our budget and, in this climate, that is really unlikely.
"We had some funding in reserve last year that we allocated to public grants and we have spent every cent. We are looking at a really bleak year in 2013."
Ms Smyth said the funding situation also had a profound effect on the jobs situation throughout the country.
"All of these projects are supporting a wide range of specialist jobs, from thatchers to conservationists, to research on wildlife," she said.
"We will have to find new creative ways to fund the protection of our heritage."
The council has seen its budget cut by 60% since 2008, when it had €20m to spend.
A spokesperson for the Department of the Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht said the department would continue to provide funding for the protection, conservation and development of the country's built and natural heritage - in so far as resources allowed.
"The management of resources made available to the council is a matter for the council," he said.
Ms Smyth was speaking yesterday, the eve of National Heritage Week, which has reached a new record with over 1,550 events.
More than 600,000 people are expected to take part in National Heritage week and most events are free.