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Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - National Heritage.

Wednesday, 8 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 1

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[53]

 5. Miss de Valera Information on Síle de Valera Zoom on Síle de Valera  asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  the way in which he intends to promote further knowledge and interest in our national heritage among young people throughout the country. [9219/96]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. Carey): Information on Donal Carey Zoom on Donal Carey The heritage services of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht provide an information and education service to the general public, including young people and students, on all aspects of the national heritage. An education officer is attached to the heritage services with specific responsibility in this area. The service provided includes catering for school groups on education tours at visitor centres, publication of education packs, visits to schools by wildlife rangers and other heritage services staff and an annual schools' newsletter Heritage Highlights. A major environmental education conference is planned this year at Kilmainham for transition year teachers with the aim of encouraging good practice in the teaching of environmental education in transition year. An in-service training course for primary school teachers is also held each year at Wexford wildfowl reserve.

Under the provisions of the Heritage Act, 1995, a function of the independent statutory Heritage Council, which the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht appointed last year, is to promote interest, education, knowledge and pride in and to facilitate the appreciation and enjoyment of the national heritage. In carrying out this function, the council is required to co-operate with public authorities, educational bodies and other organisations and persons.

As the Minister stated in this House on Committee State of the Heritage Bill, when accepting an amendment proposed by Deputy Quill to provide that the functions of the Heritage Council would include promotion of heritage education, he believes that the Heritage Council can play a valuable role in promoting heritage education, especially among young people.

Miss de Valera: Information on Síle de Valera Zoom on Síle de Valera I thank the Minister [54] for his reply. I am well aware of the education service in the whole area of heritage and the in-service training for teachers is most valuable. I welcome the fact that an environmental education conference will be held later in the year. Will the Minister agree that knowledge of fundamental and major historic events and influences are the only way of acquiring an interest in and knowledge of our heritage. Our understanding of the development of art and literature must be seen in the context of historic periods in which they were conceived. Will the Minister agree that the removal of history from the core curriculum will create a void and that such action would be absurd if we are to promote an appreciation and enjoyment of our national heritage?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Deputy is raising a matter which is perhaps more appropriate to another Minister.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey Zoom on Donal Carey While I understand the Deputy's concern, the area of responsibility of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, particularly with regard to heritage, has been dealt with in my reply. History is the responsibility of the Department of Education and if the Deputy addresses her question to the Minister for Education she will receive an appropriate reply.

Miss de Valera: Information on Síle de Valera Zoom on Síle de Valera Does the Minister agree that history and heritage are clearly inseparable, that heritage becomes meaningless without some knowledge of history — it is like trying to stage Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Does the Minister support the proposal by the Minister for Education, which is clearly outlined in the White Paper, to abolish history from the core subjects?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy I am concerned about charging the Minister of State with responsibility which is clearly not his.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey Zoom on Donal Carey I gave a full reply about [55] heritage which is the responsibility of my Department. While I would like to assist the Deputy, she is engaging in contortion by applying history and heritage together. History is dealt with by the Department of Education and that question should be put to the Minister at that Department. The question of responsibility of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht in providing information and education services to the general public, including young people, is adequately covered in my reply.

Miss de Valera: Information on Síle de Valera Zoom on Síle de Valera I accept the Minister has outlined his reply and I thank him for that, but it is impossible to separate history from heritage. One cannot understand heritage without having a fundamental knowledge of history. I hope the Minister of State, who has responsibility for heritage, will impress upon his colleague, the Minister for Education, the need to retain history as a core subject in the curriculum.


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