Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Drumclay Crannóg Report Long Overdue - Flanagan

Published: 25 June, 2015

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has welcomed the publication of the review into the issues surrounding the context of the excavation at Drumlay Crannóg on the route of the Cherrymount Link Road, near Enniskillen in summer 2012.

Mr Flanagan said:

"I have been seeking a copy of this report since it was given to Mark Durkan in October 2013. He has been sitting on this report for nearly two years as the public awaited clarification as to what exactly happened to cause the destruction of a significant part of one of Ireland's most significant ever archaeological discoveries.

"Despite Mark H Durkan pledging in October 2013 that he would circulate a copy of it to the Minister for Regional Development, the Committee for the Environment, and; the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, plus; elected representatives for this area once he 'had the opportunity to give it his initial careful consideration', it took eleven months for the Minister Durkan to provide the DRD Minister and the two scrutiny committees with a copy of the report.

"However at some stage there was a u-turn on his commitment to provide the area's elected representatives with a copy and for some reason he decided he was only going to provide us 'with a copy of the key findings and recommendations of the report', which never materialised either. Given the public interest in this matter, that was not acceptable to me and I challenged him on it.

"Lessons need to be learnt from this mess. The Minister's delay in publishing this report has not increased public confidence in the Department or in the Environment Agency, which does not come out well in this review.

"It is important that the lessons from this report are learnt, particularly those around systematic weaknesses, the failure to tackle illegal activity and poor human judgement, so that a similar situation does not arise in future.

"Amey have accepted that they acted illegally by carrying out unauthorised excavation work using a machine and work carried out by the contractor appears to has destroyed archaeological deposits around the perimeter of the crannog.

"The Minister must explain why NIEA failed to act more strongly when the illegal activity occurred and this failure highlights, once again, the failure of NIEA to protect the environment and the need for a strong and independent Environmental Protection Agency.

"Not only did NIEA not take action to seek a prosecution, but they actually renewed this licence shortly afterwards to allow further excavation and to date, no action has been taken to explore the potential for prosecution for this illegal activity. "In order to improve public confidence in the NIEA as protectors of the environment, this situation needs to change."