OUR national heritage needs to become more accessible, allowing people to enjoy it more, it was claimed yesterday.
The Heritage Council launched its new strategic plan which aims to be "people orientated" and guided towards "public participation". It focuses strongly on improving the accessibility and enjoyment of our national heritage over the next four years.
Speaking at the launch of the plan, Dr Tom O'Dwyer, council chairman, said that public inclusion has primarily stemmed from the widespread public participation in the development of the strategy.
Key priorities of the plan include preventative conservation of buildings, museums and archives; further development of the Heritage Council's grant schemes, scientific and economic research in a number of key areas impacting on the national heritage.
The Heritage Council aims to achieve its objectives by working with its extensive network of partnerships with local authorities, community groups, land-owners and heritage enterprises throughout the country.
The council said a budget of about €20m annually until 2011 was needed to implement this plan.
But Environment Minister Dick Roche said he could not commit to that amount but would give €5m to refurbish their new headquarters in the former Church of Ireland Bishop's Palace in Kilkenny city.