Heritage service fails to see full picture
Published 24/04/2008 | 00:00
The Environment and Heritage Service's report, State of the Environment, published in March, stated 'we lack a full picture of the state of all our valuable historic buildings and archaeological sites' in Northern Ireland.
Let's take the example of what is happening in Fermanagh.
The book, Archaeological Objects from Co Fermanagh, EHS, published in 2002, stated that two Environment Heritage Service officers had investigated Fermanagh's monuments 'as part of the Government's archaeological survey since the 1970s'.
This went on for two decades, up to 1993.
The 1993 Environment Heritage Service's report stated that the EHS had been 'committed' (by a 1990 Government White Paper, no less) to complete the survey of historic monuments in Northern Ireland by 1995.
The Environment Heritage Service said that the survey of Fermanagh was completed.
This claim turned out to be embarrassing. Since 1993 to 1995, many hundreds of 'new' prehistoric archaeological monuments have been discovered by me in Fermanagh, these now accounting for about 78% of those known.
EHS specially commissioned me to carry out this fresh investigation and they asked me to submit a detailed report to them that they promised to publish.
But, seemingly, I discovered too much for EHS.
Now, 15 years later, I can confirm that EHS has made no progress towards publishing the huge numbers of new discoveries.
In 1996, the chief executive of EHS had guaranteed in writing to me, 'it remains our intention to publish this material — there is no intention to deny this data to the public'.
So, when the Environment Heritage Service say that they do not see the full picture, it is because they are sitting on it.