Ireland is to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status for five new sites across the country.
The Valentia Transatlantic Cable in Kerry, The Burren in Clare, Glendalough in Wicklow, the passage tomb landscape of Sligo and a number of royal ancient sites make up the five locations expected to apply for Ireland’s tentative list.
If any of the applications are successful, they will join the country’s two other UNESCO World Heritage sites - Newgrange in County Meath and Skellig Michael in County Kerry.
A UNESCO heritage site must be “so exceptional” that it “transcends national boundaries” and be of importance for generations to come.
County councils and heritage sites have until June 30th to apply to be considered.
Paul Devane from Skelling Michael Cruises says business soared after the award:
“Since 1996, it has just gone huge,” he said.
“Even now, I would be getting bookings for 2022 already. Even form last year, it was American tourists hoping to get here this year that flicked the booking from last year and they are probably flicking it again.”
Meanwhile, Clare TD Michael McNamara raised concern over the nomination process.
“They weren’t terribly interested in receiving proposals that didn’t involve local authorities,” he said.
“Secondly they seemed to have a very good idea of the proposals they want to entertain and the proposals they don’t and that is worrying in a way.”
A number if sites, including Inis Cealtra off the coast of Deputy McNamara’s County Clare made the tentative list ten years ago but are not expected to be put forward again.
He called for more transparency behind the decision-making process:
“On what basis are these decisions being made?” he asked.
“The criteria haven’t substantially changed since the last time so if the criteria haven’t changed and if all of the work was done to propose a site for world heritage status before, I just don’t see what has changed that it couldn’t be proposed now.”
All applications will go to an expert advisory group for assessment before a final tentative list is considered.