UNESCO has enquired about whether appropriate authorisation was granted for the use of World Heritage site Skellig Michael as a film set for the latest instalment in the Star Wars
A UNESCO spokesperson confirmed to AM2
that the heritage body has asked the National Monuments Service (NMS) – which oversees heritage sites in Ireland – for further “information on filming permissions.”
Skellig Michael is an island off the coast of County Kerry and features a Christian monastery founded at some point between the 6th and 8th centuries. The remains of this monastery, along with most of the island itself, were added to the World Heritage Site list in 1996.
In addition to UNESCO, both Birdwatch Ireland and an independent archaeologist had expressed concerns about the impact of a major film crew on a fragile environment such as the monastery.
UNESCO also said that it was not aware of any advanced notification, although the Irish government is not obliged to inform it about such projects unless there was deemed to be a potential risk to the “universal value” of a UNESCO site.
The NMS is now looking into the enquiry to decide whether any action needs to be taken and has said it will submit a report to UNESCO by 3 August – though this won’t help the heritage body as filming is expected to have been wrapped up by then.