Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Drumclay Crannog Report | Light at the end of the trench?

As I reported previously, I again wrote to Minister Durkan on September 15th, enquiring as to the status of the ‘Review of the context of the excavation of a crannog in Drumclay townland, Co. Fermanagh on the route of the Cherrymount Link Road’.

Drumclay Crannog open day - educating the next generation
about the importance of our heritage

This afternoon (October 1st) I received the following reply from Dr John O'Keeffe:


True, there's still no actual report, but the phrase 'I do expect that to happen very soon' feels much better than the previous reply that stated:

'the Minister has considered the contents of this report, and is in the process of sharing its content with Executive colleagues and the Chairs of the Environment and the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committees.  Following on from this, he hopes to make the contents of the Review more widely available'.

O'Keeffe mentions that he was pleased to see me at the conference last weekend in Enniskillen. Personally, I'm always delighted to see a friendly face, but I was especially delighted with some of the points discussed by Dr O'Keeffe in the general Q&A sections. Without going into too much detail, it was clear that the impact of Dr Cooney's review is being felt and (more importantly) acted upon. The NIEA have been reexamining the levels of protection given to crannogs, both in terms of legislative powers, and the physical areas that they occupy that may be scheduled. From his comments, it also appears that the NIEA are in the midst of a serious examination of how archaeological works are carried out in Northern Ireland, generally. From the tasters given at the conference, O'Keeffe and his team appear to be attempting to enact large-scale, positive change. While we wait to get a comprehensive view of how these changes will be enacted (along with the publication of Prof Cooney's report), I am hopeful - more hopeful than I have been in a long, long time - that lessons have been learned from the Drumclay fiasco and that such an egregious situation will never happen again.

I'm still holding out for an Alternative Ulster, but I'm willing to start with an Alternative NIEA!

Robert