Fianna Fáil Senator Dr. Keith Swanick has welcomed confirmation from the Government that all children under 12 will be granted free admission to all Office of Public Works (OPW) heritage sites across the country.

Senator Swanick explained, “This is really great news for children and their families.  This initiative should encourage more families to visit heritage sites and immerse themselves in our rich culture.

“In Ireland we are incredibly lucky to have such incredible history and culture on our doorstep, and many of these sites are easily accessible.  I first saw this type of scheme introduced in the United States of America by President Barack Obama, designed to encourage children to get out into nature and enjoy local amenities and national parks for free.  I am pleased that Minister Kevin Moran is now introducing a similar scheme here.

“There has been much talk recently about how we need to move our education system away from the current reliance on rote learning to a focus on experience-led teaching.  Visits to our various historic and cultural sites will not only inspire creativity but will also create lifelong memories.

“I have been engaging with parents who have emphasised their wish that their children would spend less time in front of screens and would spend more time outdoors.  This scheme is designed to promote more outdoor and cultural activity, and it does so without placing a prohibitive cost on parents.

“Ireland is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world and millions of tourists come to visit OPW sites in Ireland each year, so it is important that we do more to encourage more young people to get involved in an active, fun and free environment.   This scheme will hopefully encourage more children to get out and visit OPW sites, as it’s a win-win for all,” concluded Senator Swanick.