An Taisce (Irish for The Treasury), also known as the National Trust for Ireland, was established in 1948 with a similar mission to that of the National Trust in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is not a state organisation although it receives a modest annual government grant — less than €6,000 out of a total annual income in the region of €440,000, derived from member fees, bequests and donations. In August 2010 there were calls for an investigation into the organisation's finances when it was revealed that it received €30,000 corporate donations from incinerator company, Indaver, and supermarket giant Tesco Ireland, while at the same time, An Taisce were opposing some of the two Company's developments.
The Planning Acts provide for An Taisce and about 20 other prescribed bodies to be informed of all planning applications in areas of scenic beauty or high amenity significance; where architectural, archaeological or environmental issues need to be considered. Local Authorities are obliged to consult An Taisce on a vast array of development proposals. Therefore, its range of expertise extends across Ireland's natural, built, and social heritage. It seeks to educate, inform, and lead public opinion on the environment; to advocate and influence policy; and manage heritage properties. It has recently taken a strong stand against the government and Royal Dutch Shell's plans to build an inland natural gas refinery in Erris.
The organisation is split into four operational divisions:
- Projects Unit operates nationwide programmes on behalf of the Irish government's Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Dublin Transportation Office and the European Union, such as the Blue Flag water quality accreditation programme and Green Schools Programme that aims to promote higher environmental standards in schools.
- The Planning Office which monitors roughly 5% of all planning (local authority development consent) applications made annually making submissions on a small number of those received and appealing about 300 applications a year to An Bord Pleanála, the statutory planning appeals board.
- Natural Environment Office which monitors environmental standards and co-ordinates policy formation from the elected advocacy committees amongst the membership.
- Property Custody takes ownership of and looks after properties that have either historical significance or are environmentally sensitive. The Properties listed below are taken care of by both professional staff and volunteers who are involved with the day-to-day management of income generating properties such as Tailors Hall (also available for private hire for weddings) and the restoration of important resources such as the Boyne Navigation.
The organisation comprises over 5,000 members; annual individual membership is €45. They are organised into 15 local organisations and these report to a 50-person Ruling Council. The Council elects a board of management and other policy committees, including:
- Natural Environment Committee
- Built Environment Committee
- Heritage Gardens and Designed Landscapes Sub-Committee
- Transport Committee
- Waste Committee
- Economics Committee
- President: John Sweeney
- Chairman: Charles Stanley-Smith
- Hon Secretaries: Mide Gerard, Eric Conroy
- Gavin Harte: Executive Director
- Ian Lumley: Heritage Officer
- Anna Martin: Planning Administrator
- Anja Murray: Natural Environment Officer
- Elizabeth Muldowney: Energy Officer
- Carol O'Connor: Office Manager
- Bina Shah: Assistant
- Tailor's Hall, Back Lane, Dublin 8 (headquarters employing 17 staff)
- Kanturk Castle, County Cork
- Booterstown Marsh Nature Reserve, Dublin
- Boyne Navigation and Towpath, County Meath
- The Old Courthouse, Howth, County Dublin
- The Crane, Gort Weighhouse, County Galway
- Crocknafarragh, County Donegal
- The Grove, Morehampton Road Wildlife Sanctuary, Dublin 4
- The Gull Islands and Rough Island in Mulroy Bay, County Donegal
- Mongan Bog, County Offaly
- Mullaghmore, County Clare
- Oweninny Bog, County Mayo
- An Taisce Magazine, Spring 2009