OSCAR-winning actor Jeremy Irons last night lambasted the Government for its failure to financially support An Taisce.
He said it was disgraceful that the only group fighting for the protection of Ireland's heritage is a voluntary body run on only €5,000 per year. "It's disgraceful that the Government should not pay for its own watchdog. After all, they are in power to protect us and protect Ireland - that's why they were elected. And as the economy has expanded they should be putting some of that tax money aside to fund watchdog to care of the place," he said. Mr Irons has been living for the past 14 years in a 15th century castle at Kilcoe, West Cork. Running the national trust for Ireland on €5,000 a year was a "joke", he said. "It's like a slap in the face. I pay more than that in tax in two week just for my labour force in Kilcoe." He condemned as ludicrous the fact that people who find architectural treasures on their land are not compensated. "What it will mean is that what they will do is try to cover it up and that goes against what we all want and what the Government should want - the protection of Ireland's heritage. "If you know by discovering something your land is going to become worthless you'll hide it. "Or if you find a bit of treasure, you know you'll get nothing for it, you'll take it abroad." Mr Irons - who won an Oscar award for his role in the film Reversal of Fortune - was launching the An Taisce website - www.antaisce.org - in City Hall, Dublin last night. Niamh Hooper (c) Irish Independent
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