GEORGIAN Dublin could be added to Unesco's exclusive list of world heritage sites next year, but only if it can be shown that the architectural heart of the capital is of "outstanding universal value".
However, a number of older Irish sites are ahead of these buildings for elevation to the list of 181 buildings, sites and monuments, according to environment minister John Gormley.
To gain heritage status, a site must have "cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity".
The Burren in Clare, the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, Ceide Fields in Mayo, Clara bog in Offaly, Clonmacnoise in Westmeath, Killarney national park in Kerry, northwest Mayo boglands and the Western Stone Fronts in Galway are considered to have a better chance of getting on the list than Georgian Dublin, which counts senator David Norris as its most famous champion. These are already on the government's "tentative" list of sites submitted to Unesco for consideration.
To date, Unesco has accepted just two sites in the Republic . . . Sceilig Micheal in Kerry and Bru na Boinne on the banks of the River Boyne . . . while the Giants Causeway also has Unesco heritage status.
Gormley last week said he would review the "tentative" list, which was compiled in 1992, and assured Fianna Fail's Chris Andrews he would consider Georgian Dublin in the context of this review.
While major kudos accrues to any government that gets a site onto the list, there is a sting in the tail. If accepted the site must be permanently protected. Given development needs, the government could not guarantee this for Georgian Dublin.
Tara was also considered but, as the building of the motorway through it could hardly be considered "permanent protection", it is unlikely to appear on the list.