Historic Monuments Council (HMC) Publication Scheme and FOI

About this publication scheme

Under section 19(1) of the Freedom of Information Act every public authority is required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out the classes of information it holds, the manner in which it intends to publish the information and whether or not a charge will be made for the information.

The Information Commissioner, who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, has drawn up a Model Publication Scheme and a Definition Document for all public sector organisations.  The Historic Monuments Council has formally adopted the Information Commissioner’s model publication scheme.  The scheme is organised into seven classes of information which are set out below.  This structure aims to save you time and effort when searching for information.

Who we are 

Historic Monuments Council

The Council currently consists of a chair and fourteen members.  Appointments are for a term which usually lasts five years.  The current Chair and members are as follows:

Audrey Gahan (Chair)
Dr Jason Bolton
William Darby
Ian Doyle
Dr Siobhán McDermott
Joseph McVey
Dr William Megarry
Dr Sally Montgomery
Dr James O’Neill
Christina O’Regan
Sam Redmond
David Vincent
Robert Wilson
Sarah Witchell
Robert Colvin

What we do

The Historic Monuments Council (HMC) is an Advisory Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Communities (DfC).  Historic Environment Division (HED) is the Sponsor Division within the Department. 

The HMC was first established in 1971 under the provisions of the Historic Monuments (Northern Ireland) Act 1971.  Its current authority is derived from the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (the Order).

The specific functions of the HMC as outlined in the Order are:

  • Article 3 provides the authority for the Department to compile and maintain a schedule of historic monuments for their protection. It is a requirement of Article 3(6) that the Department consults the HMC on any proposed additions to or deletions from the schedule;
  • Under Article 22 there is to be a Council, known as “the Historic Monuments Council”, for the purpose of advising the Department on the exercise of its powers under the Order;
  • Article 28(1) requires consultation with HMC regarding the disposal of any land acquired under Articles 13, 14 or 18 (i.e. State Care Monuments); and
  • Under Part IV Supplementary 44(2) the HMC shall be consulted by the Department prior to making regulations relating to scheduled monument consents.

The Strategic Planning Policy Statement states that the HMC must be consulted on the identification of Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest (ASAIs).

In practice the Council also advises the Department on -

  • Policy and guidelines relating to the historic environment;
  • Significant proposals relating to the acquisition, disposal, conservation and management of monuments in State Care and other significant proposals relating to such monuments;
  • The scheduling of monuments, de-scheduling or monuments and significant scheduled monument consents;
  • The management and/or conservation of historic monuments, archaeological objects and the associated records and archives;
  • Planning and development issues affecting heritage assets, their settings, Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest  and historic landscapes;
  • Major infrastructure projects, such as road developments, that are likely to have a cumulative impact on the historic environment;
  • Cases where the need for enforcement action is being considered by the Department; and
  • Other matters relating to the preservation of historic monuments, maritime archaeology, historic parks, gardens and demesnes, industrial and defence heritage as may be referred to it.

What we spend and how we spend it

Historic Environment Division (HED) is the sponsor branch within DfC, and provides the Council’s secretariat.  The Department manages a small annual budget of c. £5,000 per annum relating to the HMC,  which is used to cover the cost of travel and subsistence for Council members and as well as any publications or events which happen throughout the year.  The cost of recruitment is met by a central recruitment budget within the Department for Communities.

Positions of the HMC are not remunerated; however Council members are entitled to make a claim for expenses incurred through the performance of their duties such as transport costs.

HMC has no contracts that have gone through a tendering process.

HMC undertakes no major capital expenditure.

What are our priorities and how are we doing

The main priority of the HMC is to advise the Department for Communities on matters relating to the exercise of the Department’s powers and responsibilities under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects order.

HMC is an advisory council and, as such, it does not have an annual strategic or business plan.  However, it identifies key areas of work for each term of the Council, usually five years, and reviews these in a business planning meeting with the sponsor branch (HED) bi-annually.  At the end of each term a Report is produced and presented to the Departmental board before being laid at the Assembly.

How we make decisions

HMC is an advisory body to DfC and as such it provides advice and recommendations to inform decisions of the Department.  HMC meets every two months, apart from July and August.  Minutes from council meetings are available on request from the Secretariat; however HMC retain the right under legislation to redact sensitive and personal material.

Our Policies and procedure


The Department for Communities is responsible for the recruitment of members and chair of the Council in line with the Commissioner for Public Appointments NI guidance.

Members and Chair are usually officially appointed by the Minister.

Customer service

The introduction of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ensures that anybody has the right to write and ask for official information held by HMC as a public authority.  The HMC also has a statutory obligation to adopt and maintain this publication scheme.  The Chair of the HMC is responsible for considering requests for information and operating the publication scheme, with the support of the Secretariat.  All requests for information should be directed to the Secretariat:  

HBC-HMC Secretariat
Historic Environment Division
Department for Communities
Ground Floor
Nine Lanyon Place
Email: HBC-HMCSecretariat@communities-ni.gov.uk 
Tel: 028 9081 9295

Records management

HMC is a Statutory Advisory Council to the Department of Communities, which provides the Council’s secretariat.  The secretariat maintains all records related to HMC and does this in line with the Department for Communities policy.


As an arm’s length body of the Department for Communities, HMC is committed to ensuring due regard is given to the need to promote equality of opportunity and good relations in respect of religious belief, political opinion, gender, race, disability, age, marital status, dependents and sexual orientation.


Complaints against a member of the Council should be referred to the Chair in the first instance.  If it is not resolved it should then be referred to the sponsor division.  In such circumstances members should expect to be assessed against the Terms and Conditions of Appointment and Code of Conduct for Members of the HMC and On Board: A Guide for Board Members of Public Bodies.

Charges for publications

HMC reserves the right to charge for the production of multiple paper copies of documents, which are otherwise free of charge. 

Policies and procedures for membership


The Services we offer

The services provided by HMC are set out in the ‘Who we are’ and ‘what we do’ sections above.

If you can’t find a document

HMC is committed to making information readily available, within the scope of the legislation.  To assist us to deal with requests for information promptly, it would be helpful if you could direct enquiries to:

HBC-HMC Secretariat
Historic Environment Division
Department for Communities
Ground Floor
Nine Lanyon Place
Email: HBC-HMCSecretariat@communities-ni.gov.uk

Requests for information must be in writing (or email), give your name and a correspondence (or email) address and describe the information requested.  Requests for environmental information may also be made verbally.  Applications should provide as much detail as possible to identify the information sought.

If the information you want is not routinely published, you can make a request for it under the Freedom of Information Act via the address above.

We will also advise you how to ask for information that we do not publish or how to complain if you are dissatisfied with any aspect of this publication scheme.

If we are unable to resolve any complaint, you can complain to the Information Commissioner whose contact details are:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Tel: +44 (0) 303 123 1113
E-mail: casework@ico.org.uk

Publication scheme charges

The Council reserves the right to charge for the production of multiple paper copies of documents, which are otherwise free of charge. 

Alternative formats

If the information is not in a format that meets your needs please contact HBC-HMCSecretariat@communities-ni.gov.uk

Crown copyright and licensing

All material belonging to the Council is subject to Crown copyright protection unless otherwise indicated.

This version of the Publication Scheme was last updated in November 2020.

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