It was disgraceful of Minister of State Simon Harris to suggest that members of the community should volunteer to run the Swiss Cottage in Cahir, Cllr. Andy Moloney has stated.
Speaking at a meeting of Clonmel Borough District, Cllr. Moloney said there would be issues with trade unions if staff were laid off and volunteers were asked to go in and run an OPW building containing national artefacts.
It wasn’t the first time the Minister had made such a suggestion and they should inform him they wouldn’t entertain this.
He was reacting to a response from Brian Higgins, Minister Harris’ private secretary, to a request for an extension to the opening dates and times at the Swiss Cottage, a major tourist attraction in the area.
Apart from Christmas and New Year, the Cottage has remained open for the past year because the staff at Cahir Castle, where redevelopment works were undertaken, had been redeployed there.
“I would like to point out that this extended opening of the Cottage is a once-off occurrence and the perennial problem of a broadening of its opening dates needs to be addressed by all stakeholders”, the Minister’s letter stated.
“In this regard any expansion of the opening dates of the Swiss Cottage can really only be considered if the local community is prepared to become actively involved, or if additional funding can be made available by such as the Chamber of Commerce or Tipperary County Council”.
The Minister’s letter also stated that the OPW was always anxious to make visitor sites accessible to ensure that as many visitors as possible could be accommodated, and that businesses in the locality could directly benefit.
“In light of current constraints on budgets and staffing resouces, this is a very challenging task and restrictions on opening times at quite a number of our heritage sites are necessary”.
Cllr. Pat English agreed they shouldn’t be looking for volunteers to run OPW buildings.