Heritage Council


Heritage Council Chairman Conor Newman Steps Down

The Chairman of the Heritage Council, Conor Newman, has decided to step down after eight years in the post.

The decision, he says, was “not taken lightly”, especially following the good news for the heritage sector in Budget 2017, which saw a €1 million increase in its capital allocation for next year, and the current positivity surrounding the cultural and heritage sectors as drivers of community well-being and creativity.

Speaking after he had informed Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Ms. Heather Humphreys,of his decision, and thanked the Minister for the first significant increase in funds since his appointment,  the Chairman acknowledged the courtesy and consideration he had been shown by all the Ministers under whose aegis the Council had operated. He thanked all the Board members who had contributed their knowledge and expertise so freely to the work of Council and, of course, the staff who maintained their positive outlook through some difficult years.

“I was appointed in 2008, just before the economic crash. Notwithstanding the impact of what was a very challenging period, the Council continued to show creativity and imagination in working for heritage, and with local communities.  We have drawn our energy from the enthusiasm and knowledge of people in every corner of Ireland. They have been our inspiration. Our focus has unapologetically been to work with them to improve the quality of their place and of their lives”

Minister Humphreys, paying tribute to Mr. Newman, said:  “I would like to sincerely thank Conor for all of his work on the Heritage Council over the last number of years. He never failed to represent the heritage sector with real commitment and enthusiasm, and he used his own knowledge and expertise to the benefit of local communities all over Ireland. I wish him the very best for the future.”

During his period as Chairman, Conor Newman saw many major policy initiatives put forward by Council, and recognised by Government, including the publication of the National Landscape Strategy and the development of Culture 2025. Support for,  and development of, key heritage infrastructure, such as the Heritage Officer Network in partnership with local authorities, continued to flourish and effect change (there are 28 local authority Heritage Officers now in post).  His chairmanship also helped bring clarity to the Council’s strategic support for the significant role of our national heritage in employment and education, and its centrality to the economic success of our vital agriculture and tourism sectors.

Michael Starrett, Council’s Chief Executive, speaking after Conor Newman had made his decision known to Council and its staff, was unequivocal in his praise for the Chairman’s work. “The Chairman gave us all energy and enthusiasm to continue with our work in one of the most turbulent periods in the country’s history. His quiet assertiveness and wise counsel never failed to inspire and to ensure we found new responses and mechanisms to move forward. He leaves a Heritage Council ready to grasp the opportunities presented in the next stage of the organisation’s development”.

Conor Newman also acknowledged the support he received from NUI Galway during his term of office, commenting that vital State agencies, such as the Heritage Council, rely on the pro bono time, commitment and expertise provided from the ranks of academia and elsewhere. This represents an important public service.

For further information, contact Michelle Tritschler (086 3846630) or Stephen O’Byrnes (087 8148720) at MKC Communications.