A broad span of legislation covers the role of the state to protect the archaeological and architectural heritage as well as wildlife in Ireland. On the archaeological heritage side, the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004 give the government authority to protect archaeological sites and monuments that have been identified under the Archaeological Survey of Ireland. A National Monuments Bill to consolidate and modernise national monuments legislation remains unpublished, following a review of the state’s archaeological policy and practice. This Bill was intended as a single piece of consolidated and modernised legislation to replace existing Acts which would afford stronger protection for heritage. Key objectives of the new legislation were to maintain a balance between development needs and archaeological protection and to support government policies aimed at ensuring cost-effective implementation of infrastructure programmes.
On the natural heritage side, the Wildlife Act 2000 (amendment) together with the European Communities Natural Habitats Regulations 1997 designates Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas in line with EU directives. Natural Heritage Areas are also designated under the Wildlife Act 2000.
The Heritage Council was established as a statutory body under the Heritage Act 1995 to propose policies and priorities for the identification, protection, preservation and enhancement of the national heritage (see chapter 3.1).
The Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 inter alia allows tax relief in respect of the donation of important national heritage items to the Irish national collections in the form of a tax credit equal to the value of the donation. The Heritage Fund Act 2001 established a fund with an overall limit of EUR 12.7 million over a five year period to allow the principal state collecting institutions to acquire significant items for the national collection. The Council of National Cultural Institutions makes recommendations to the Minister on proposed acquisitions in respect of the five eligible institutions.