Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade
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Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Robert Kirkwood Paterson

This Handbook offers a collection of original writings by leading scholars and practitioners in the exciting, rapidly developing field of cultural heritage law. The detailed essays are the product of a multi-year project of the Committee on Cultural Heritage Law of the International Law Association.
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Chapter 9: Ireland

Patricia Conlan


The legal framework in Ireland relating to the movement of cultural material can be described as a mosaic. There are the wholly domestic statutory measures, some dating back to before the foundation of the State, up to recent times, as well as case law. Together with the European Union (EU) measures, these are the most relevant. In addition, there are international instruments such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now World Trade Organization (WTO), ratified by the former European Communities (now European Union - EU) and by its Member States, including Ireland as well as the treaties developed within the Council of Europe, of which Ireland is a founding member. Domestic measures fall into several categories. There is the major modern statute addressing, inter alia, the updating of existing legislation, as well as providing for the issuing of export licences and a broad range of other matters. There are those statutes directed at the protection of Ireland's - mainly - archaeological heritage, those dealing with the legitimate trade and lawful movement of a range of cultural material, and the innovative approach to taxation incentives in response to donations of heritage items. The emphasis in this contribution will be on legislation dealing with export controls, with some comments on the related issues of import controls and cooperation in foreign recovery. This reflects the pattern of movement of cultural material in Ireland. Ireland would not be seen as a major importer of art and antiquities.

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