Claims alleged department inaction could threaten Skellig Michael World Heritage status

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An archaeologist is alleging that a Government department is failing to implement a 10-year-old recommendation in a UNESCO report that all interventions and works on Skellig Michael be documented.

Archaeologist Michael Gibbons, who runs archaeological trips on Skellig Michael, says this is a breach of UNESCO regulations and threatens the World Heritage listing of the island.

He claims people don’t know what monuments were built or rebuilt, adding it is not clear what is real or what has been reconstructed on Skellig Michael.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht says there are no issues at dispute between them and UNESCO, and adds there is no threat to the World Heritage listing.

Archaeologist Michael Gibbons says it is important that visitors and researchers are fully aware of the pre-conservation state of the monuments and the reasons for change.

He says the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan failed to address why this report has not been published when asked by Deputy Éamon Ó Cuiv in December.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht responded to Mr Gibbons’ claim stating, an archaeological stratigraphic report on the excavations that took place on Skellig Michael between the years 1986 and 2000 has already been published and is available online.

The department says this addressed many issues raised by Mr Gibbons.

In response, it also states that the OPW is progressing the architectural conservation publication which they say will be available in due course.

Mr Gibbons says this report needs to be implemented now as big changes including removing St Michael’s well, changes to the shape of the clocháns, removing an oratory alter and changes to the staircases on the site have already taken place.

He says people do not know what is real and what has been altered on Skellig Michael.