Letter: Filming On Skellig Michael

My letter to the Editor regarding how we treat heritage in Ireland, published July 30 2014.

Sir, – It is now more than 10 years since Martin Cullen TD abolished Dúchas, the Heritage Service. Our national and built monuments are not adequately protected. When I questioned the OPW decision to allow filming on Skellig Michael, a general response was “it’s about jobs”. In the deep recession of the ’80s the OPW partnered with private agencies and owners to train young people in heritage protection and craft skills (stonework, wood-carving and preservation). These were jobs and skills geared toward protecting and conserving our heritage.
In the 10 years since the abolition of Dúchas, 39 sites in Tara were demolished to facilitate the M3 toll road. There are robberies of stunning stonework and the job of Dúchas has been divided between the Department of the Environment and the OPW.
Heritage is not adequately protected. We are not training the young in conservation techniques and we have no statutory agency for protecting our natural and built heritage. There are jobs in protecting our fragile heritage infrastructure in the long-term: people require skills training.
The Hollywood machine is a temporary thing. Where is the long view on jobs, on awareness and on stewardship in Ireland?
It is the job of the Minister to propose a far-sighted agenda for the work of the divided heritage agency, and yet I have seen no comment or response to the OPW decision on Skellig from her office. We are used to disgraceful decisions affecting our environment in Ireland. Why should we be surprised now? – Yours, etc,
  1. A letter by C. Murray
  2. Filming of Scenes For Star Wars Movie begins on Skellig Michael

My Letter to The Irish Times, regarding Fianna Fáil Conservation policies

This letter , published 3rd of January 2011, is regarding a lack of balance in policy initiatives by the current Irish government, who have not in my opinion balanced their environmental ‘policies’ with an ethos of conservation. I thought to publish it here and will migrate it onto a conservation page when I have that set up. I have added in a related link regarding the destruction of the Gabhra Valley (at Tara) at the base of this post.

Buying land for roads hit by cutbacks

Madam, – I find myself unsurprised by Frank McDonald’s report (Home News, December 27th) regarding the National Roads Authoritys buying of farmland. (The article states that an environmental group claims the National Roads Authority is continuing to buy up farmland for road schemes that no longer have Government approval due to cutbacks in the capital spending programme).

The NRA appears to be about the only statutory agency in Ireland that has had any power in construction terms.

Between 2001 and 2010 the Fianna Fáil ­ government set about abolishing those agencies charged with protecting our natural and built environment, Dúchas was abolished in 2003 by Martin Cullen TD, the OPW was split and even the Heritage portfolio was “dropped” temporarily in a Bertie Ahern cabinet reshuffle.

If the Fianna Fáil government of 13 years had dedicated itself as wholeheartedly to conservation, excellence and adherence to EU directive laws as it has done to fast-track planning and critical infrastructure, Ireland would indeed be a nice place to live in.

As it is, there has been no legislation directed toward conservation, and a war of attrition has been carried out against heritage through planning, abolition and under-funding. The ideal of “stewardship” has been cheapened toward profiteering and short-termism.

I believe that the whole ideology of Fianna Fáil planning is encapsulated in the National Monuments Act 2004, which is a shaming indictment of a Government which indeed lost the run of itself years ago. Our agencies, such as the NRA have left us little to boast in our concept of cultural preservation. – Yours, etc,


EDIT : Link to the IT Letter, published here.
the Save Tara Campaign Group

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an opened grave at the Lismullin site , Tara

Anne Hays, a letter to the New Yorker Magazine.

The following letter by Anne Hays was published on Facebook  on January 2nd 2011, and since  it is a day for correspondences , I thought to link it herein. Thus far the letter has had 31 likes, numerous replies, and is linked onto Twitter via VIDA, women in the literary arts.

January 2nd, 2011

The New Yorker

4 Times Square, 20th Floor

New York, NY 10036

Dear Editors of the New Yorker,

“I am writing to express my alarm that this is now the second issue of the NYer in a row where only two (tiny) pieces out of your 76 page magazine are written by women.  The January 3rd, 2011 issue features only a Shouts & Murmurs (Patricia Marx) and a poem (Kimberly Johnson).  Every other major piece—the fiction, the profile, and all the main nonfiction pieces—is written by a man.  Every single critic is a male writer.

We were already alarmed when we flipped through the Dec 20th & 27th double-issue to find that only one piece (Nancy Franklin) and one poem (Alicia Ostriker) were written by women.  A friend pointed out that Jane Kramer wrote one of the short Talk of the Town segments as well, though it barely placated our sense of outrage that one extra page, totaling three, out of the 148 pages in the magazine, were penned by women.  Again, every critic is a man.  To make matters more depressing, 22 out of the 23 illustrators for the magazine are men.  Seriously!

Women are not actually a minority group, nor is there a shortage, in the world, of female writers.  The publishing industry is replete with female editors, and it would be too obvious for me to point out to you that the New Yorker masthead has a fair number of female editors in its ranks.  And so we are baffled, outraged, saddened, and a bit depressed that, though some would claim our country’s sexism problem ended in the late 60’s, the most prominent and respected literary magazine in the country can’t find space in its pages for women’s voices in the year 2011.

I have enclosed the January issue and expect a refund.  You may either extend our subscription by one month, or you can replace this issue with a back issue containing a more equitable ratio of male to female voices. I plan to return every issue that contains fewer than five women writers.  You tend to publish 13 to 15 writers in each issue; 5 women shouldn’t be that hard.”

A dismayed reader,

Anne Hays

One aspect of the 2011 reviews in literature, in the literary Arts was the absence of women from both the editorial panels which chose (overwhelmingly) writing by male authors, there were profound absences particularly in the US , of women, black and Hispanic authors. I shall add in a selection of Books of 2010 lists at the base of this link.

In fact heres Jezebel Magazine’s analysis of the New Yorker Debacle:

Statement by Arundhati Roy on 31/10/2010.

Apologies for linking to this statement rather late and I know that it is all over the web, I think that it should also be linked here, so I am adding the  Fatima Bhutto  Twitlonger  link that  some Irish writers  posted and shared on Sunday evening (31/10/2010). The entire statement is added just beneath this following excerpt :

SOMETHING FOR THE MEDIA TO THINK ABOUT  :  (Tweeted by Fatima Bhutto 31/10/2010) :

“A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday, October 31, 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing). After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the “scene” in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime? This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir. So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers.”

Link to the Original Statement by Arundhati Roy
Guardian Report on the issue
South Asia Citizens Web