Gormley welcomes decision of World Heritage Committee


Mr John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has welcomed the decision by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd Session in Québec, to approve a report from UNESCO on its mission to Skellig Michael World Heritage Site.

“The findings of the report are very positive and highlight the high standard of conservation works being undertaken by our experts in Ireland” - said the Minister.

UNESCO undertook the mission in November, 2007 at the invitation of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to examine the conservation works on the monastic remains of Skellig Michael - in light of adverse criticism at that time and in the context of a review of the draft Management Plan for the site.

During the mission, a UNESCO-appointed expert met with officials from the Department and the Office of Public Works and with interested parties who had expressed concerns regarding the works on the island. The UNESCO mission also carried out an on-site inspection of the conservation works on the monastic structures on the island and presented the report to the World Heritage Committee.

The World Heritage Committee has now formally approved the findings of the UNESCO mission, which concluded that - 'whilst the works have transformed the appearance of these remains, they are justifiable and that the Outstanding Universal Value of the site remains intact'.

The report also makes a number of recommendations in relation to operational and management matters of the site, which have been addressed in the Skellig Michael Management Plan 2008-2018 and which have just been published.

The Management Plan has been prepared by the DEHLG in conjunction with the Office of Public Works (OPW) following an extensive consultation process. “The aim of the management plan” - the Minister said - “is to protect, conserve and promote an appreciation of Skellig Michael World Heritage Site by putting in place a management framework that will ensure its Outstanding Universal Value is preserved for present and future generations.

“The Management Plan is a comprehensive document which provides detailed information on the various aspects of the management framework for Skellig Michael - including conservation and presentation, visitor management and legislative protections to protect the site into the future.”

The policies in the plan have been informed by an extensive public consultation process. The Minister said - “I wish to express my gratitude to all parties who have contributed to the Skellig Michael Management Plan. The level of response to that process reflected the desire of individuals and organisations to ensure that the future of this World Heritage Site is safeguarded for generations to come.”

The Management Plan has been independently evaluated by ICOMOS international on behalf of UNESCO. Their report concludes that - 'the plan provides a robust baseline for future management of Skellig Michael which conforms to the requirements of the Operational Guidelines and should ensure the sustaining of its Outstanding Universal Values. The Action Plan is challenging and has appropriate and measurable targets. Increased future stakeholder participation is particularly welcome and, when implemented, the Plan should go a long way to answer the critics of the current management regime'.

Skellig Michael was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1996. The property is owned on behalf of the Irish people by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, who has responsibility for policy matters relating to the built and natural heritage. The Office of Public Works has responsibility for the management of Skellig Michael.


- UNESCO Report on the Mission to Skellig Michael - Click Here [116kb]

- UNESCO Report on the Mission to Skellig Michael - ANNEX - Click Here [Large File - 10.5MB]

- Skellig Michael World Heritage Site Management Plan 2008- 2018 - Click Here [5MB]