Moran wants free access to OPW sites for children

Seán Canney, left, outgoing minister for the OPW and Flood Relief, congratulates his successor Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, who has big plans for the office. Photo: Tom Burke

Kevin Doyle

Children will get free access to heritage sites such as Newgrange and Kilkenny Castle under proposals to be brought forward by the new OPW Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran.

The Westmeath TD takes over from Seán Canney as a Minister of State today under a deal done between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance when the Government was formed.

Outlining his plans for the office Mr Moran told the Irish Independent he wants OPW sites to stop charging entry fees for children.

"The benefit of that long-term would be huge," he said.

Mr Moran also intends to hand a number of neglected monuments back to communities so they can be brought back into use.

"There's a lot of monuments around the country with a lock on them. I want to give them over to the Tidy Towns or community groups or local authorities. There would be a huge tourism value."

Flooding will be the "top priority" for the first-time minister who believes there is a need to "speed up" the introduction of flood defences. He said Mr Canney, who has held the ministry for the past year, has "done a great job and set down markers".

Mr Moran also hopes to introduce a new form of flood insurance for homes and businesses who are currently covered by private companies.

His idea would see a levy imposed on insurance companies in order to create a pot of money the Government can make available in the event of a flooding emergency.

"It has worked in the UK. I'm not just talking about homes but also shops and other priorities. There needs to be money that can be accessed," he said.

Mr Moran told the Irish Independent he will not be seeking a series of reports from officials but will be demanding action.

"A lot of times I have heard ministers saying nothing - only report after report.

"They are often just a quick solution to stop the fella of the other side from roaring at you. I'm a different breed of politician," he said.

"I want to test Europe. Let's try the job and then ask Europe for their blessing."

Mr Moran recently revealed how he left school without completing his Junior Cert and has battled to learn how to read and write in recent years.

"For me now going in as minister would I write an essay? No, I wouldn't. Can I read? Yes, I can," he said.

"I'm still not the polished article but I am working very hard to make that happen."