Leading academics and archaeologists yesterday launched the Heritage Protection Alliance, to campaign for repeal of the National Monuments Act 2004.
The alliance identified 16 sites island-wide, including three in the Taoiseach's constituency, which it says are inadequately protected. It claims the 2004 Act provides for the destruction rather than preservation of such sites.
Included in the list is the home of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, which the alliance pointed out was referred to by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in his address at Westminster on Tuesday.
Commenting on the number of Irishmen who had links with Westminster, Mr Ahern said: "Not the least of those Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who served in this House, was born in Dorset Street in my constituency and is now buried nearby in Poets Corner at Westminster Abbey." Brinsley Sheridan's birthplace is currently the subject of an application for demolition.
The past ten years have seen an unprecedented number of sites being subjected to unnecessary destruction, according to the alliance which includes Prof Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Dr David Edwards, Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Dr Pádraig Lenihan, Rev Brian Kennaway and Senator David Norris.
They concluded "that Irish archaeology and protection given to heritage is in crisis".
In a statement, the new alliance said: "During the past 10 years over 10,000 sites of archaeological potential have been investigated in the Republic of Ireland under licence to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. Approximately 70 per cent of these sites have tested 'archaeologically positive', a phenomenal number by any standards. To put this number in perspective, it should be recalled that in 1989 a mere 101 sites were excavated."
© 2007 The Irish Times