Thursday, 1 December 2011

Carry On Up Torr 4 - Ballycastle Chronicle - 01.12.2011

Click image to enlarge

Financial cutbacks and the subsequent reduction in specialised staff (about 17 were released in May 2011) may well mean that even less protection for our heritage will be available in the future. Yet our heritage is an important part of our tourism appeal.

Added 3 December 2011

Memorandum of Understanding between CIG and NIEA - 19 April 2011

and some words on the MoU at the time:

Paul Logue (NIEA Archaeologist) added “Heritage is an important part of who we all are and where we come from. It is also an increasingly important part of the economy, attracting tourists from within our island and from abroad. We hope that this agreement will both safeguard heritage and allow us to help the construction and quarrying industries provide much needed investment and employment”.

Paul was informed about quarrying at Torr clachan:

"Your messages about this matter have been passed to me and I intend to visit the area / site tomorrow morning. I have no further details at present than ‘a digger may be sitting on a mound waiting to dig it’. I will try to find out what is occurring and let you know." ... Paul's email 23 August 2011.

"On my visit yesterday I did not observe any digger damage to the children’s burial ground or any other currently recorded archaeological site." ... Paul's email 25 August 2011.

The initial damage at Torr clachan was reported to NIEA on 31 July 2011, was assessed by two archaeologists from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Coleraine, on 10 August 2011*, further major damage was reported to NIEA and blogged on 23 August 2011 yet Paul failed to comment on this destruction in his 25 August 2011 email.

"While we have no definitive evidence to prove that this is a genuine archaeological site without testing we believe there is enough circumstantial evidence to argue its potential." ... CMA archaeologists, 10 August 2011.

Surely the first thing to have done was put an immediate block** on further excavation and resolve the evidence later. The CMA archaeologists had a choice of two mounds in the NIEA records for the townland of East Torr; the one they opted for doesn't fit the farm layout in the Griffith's maps circa 1860.

[* 11. Development at Torr – write to the Enforcement section of the Planning Service detailing quarrying and vandalism in the AONB. Also inform NIEA. (Requested by Councillor P McShane) ... Moyle District Council - agenda for 8 August 2011

** I'm told that enforcement would also have required action by the Planning Service]

Added 14 January 2012

Councillor Cara McShane and other councillors have raised this problem and other site planning issues both at council level and with various government departments and agencies. Sometimes the response is too little; sometimes it is also too late.