FOI – Information about the Heritage Council

Establishment of the Heritage Council

The Heritage Council was established in 1995 as a statutory body under the Heritage Act 1995 with a Council (the Board of the body) appointed by the Minister.

The Heritage Act (1995) and the proposed amendments in the Heritage Amendment Bill (2015) are prescriptive in terms of:

Functions of council

  • Reporting and accounting procedures to the Minister
  • Council’s activities as determined through its standing orders, its internal procedures and processes and its Strategic Plans

Roles, responsibilities and functions

The Heritage Council is a national public organisation, based in the former Bishop’s Palace in Kilkenny.

It is the Heritage Council’s vision ‘that the value of our national heritage is enjoyed, managed and protected due to the significant contribution it makes to our sense of identity, quality of life, and future well-being.’

The Heritage Council’s mission is to engage, educate and advocate to develop a wider understanding of the vital contribution that our heritage makes to our social, environmental and economic well-being.

The functions of the Heritage Council are primarily established by the Heritage Act, 1995. Its mandate is to:

  • Propose policies and priorities for the identification, protection, preservation and enhancement of the national heritage;
  • Promote interest, education, knowledge and pride in, and facilitate the appreciation and enjoyment of, the national heritage;
  • Cooperation with other bodies in the promotion of its functions; and
  • Promote the co-ordination of all activities relating to its functions.

The Heritage Council is a prescribed authority/body under the provisions of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010 and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2011, in accordance with its functions under Section 6 of the Heritage Act, 1995. As a prescribed body, the Heritage Council has statutory powers in relation to the two core processes of planning:

  • Provide advice on the formulation of planning policy
  • Provide advice in relation to proposed development management projects, which impact on heritage assets and features.

Ireland’s national heritage is defined in the Heritage Act, 1995 as including: ‘monuments, archaeological objects, heritage objects, architectural heritage, flora, fauna, wildlife habitats, landscapes, seascapes, wrecks, geology, heritage gardens, and parks and inland waterways.’

At the local level particularly, heritage is considered more broadly by many and includes tangible heritage, i.e. something that you can touch and see, for example, a medieval town wall, market square or historic village green, and intangible heritage, i.e. a process or skill, including folklore/mythology, storytelling and traditional skills such as thatching, stonework and the making of musical instruments.

Since its establishment, the Heritage Council has played a leading role in imagining, supporting and creating an innovative and participative heritage management system and infrastructure in Ireland. Community engagement, participation and development is at the very heart of all the Heritage Council’s operations and programmes. Through innovative partnerships in the community, the Heritage Council ensures that socio-economic empowerment and opportunity is linked to Ireland’s unique built, cultural and natural heritage and environment.

Classes of records held by the Heritage Council include:

  • Corporate Management: Records documenting the process of leading and managing the Heritage Council e.g. minutes of board meetings and statutory committees, strategic plans, annual reports, etc.
  • Education and Training: Records documenting the Heritage Council’s education and training function e.g. Heritage in Schools records, National Heritage Week records, etc.
  • Grants: Records documenting the administration and management of grant aid by the Heritage Council e.g. grant application, assessment and payment records.
  • Internal Operations: Records documenting the administration and management of the Heritage Council’s internal resources e.g. financial records, HR records, information compliance records, procurement records, etc.
  • Projects: Records documenting Heritage Council projects including policy work, research work and other initiatives.
  • Submissions and advice: Records documenting Heritage Council work that is responsive/referral e.g. records relating to planning.

Governance/management arrangements

The Heritage Council’s policy is to maintain the highest standards of corporate governance, in line with generally accepted policies and practices. The Council is committed to complying with the relevant provisions of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies published by the Department of Finance in 2009.

The Board of the Heritage Council is appointed by the Minister and consists of a chairperson and 11 members. Statutory standing committees have also been established on wildlife, archaeology, architectural heritage and inland waterways.

The Heritage Council has established a Finance and Audit Committee, which regularly reviews the system of internal control and engages external expertise in the carrying out of its functions, including the internal audit function, as appropriate. The Council complies with Government guidelines for the appraisal and management of Capital Expenditure in the public sector. Government policy on pay and directors’ fees is also complied with.

Corporate plans and strategies

The Heritage Council’s strategic plans can be accessed here. 

Annual reports

The Heritage Council’s annual reports which can be accessed here. 

Organisation structure

Location and contact details for the organisation

The Heritage Council, Aras na hOidhreachta, Church Lane, Kilkenny
T: 00 353 (0)56 7770777 E: mail@heritagecouncil.ie   
FOI Queries: Please contact Mr Liam Scott, FOI Officer and Head of Business
Media Queries: Please contact Ms Isabell Smyth, Head of Communications and Education   

Links to agencies/other bodies under the FOI body’s remit

Links to other bodies and organisation under the Heritage Council’s can be found here.

Details of service level agreements/memoranda of understanding

Customer charters

Codes of practice or guidelines

Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies

Heritage Council Data Protection Policy (pending)