Saturday 22 October 2016

An Taisce may bring legal case over Star Wars filming on Skellig Michael

Environmental group an Taisce may bring a legal challenge over the decision to allow one of Hollywood's most powerful studios to film the latest Star Wars movie on Skellig Michael.

Ireland's Unesco world heritage site in Kerry has been opened for a second time to let the production back on the island for several days this month.

Despite fierce criticism from An Taisce, the body tasked with conserving Irish heritage sites, the Government sanctioned the film crew's return to the historic monastic setting (inset).

But the decision has sparked a war of words with the conservation group, who accuse Heather Humphreys, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, of granting permission for filming in a "non-transparent way".

The Minister insists getting another movie in the latest Star Wars trilogy back on Ireland's shores is a major coup.

"The return of Star Wars is another win for Ireland, and the Irish film industry, which is a growing and dynamic sector of our economy," she said.

The Minister also stressed strict environmental conditions have been imposed to protect bird life. It is understood eight return helicopter flights have been licensed.

Birdwatch Ireland says disruption caused by such flights could be detrimental to nocturnal sea birds in particular.

Located off Co Kerry, the protected island has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1996.

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