Treasure hunters or harmless hobbyists? Debate over the merits of a popular pastime at the National Metal Detecting Championships.

The National Monuments Act prohibits the use of metal detectors in the search for archaeological items. Treasure hunters are fighting back challenging the constitutionality of the act. 

Organisers of the National Metal Detecting Championships held in Mullingar believe it to be a harmless sport. 

It's the public face of what's now a very controversial sport.

Metal detectorist John Mangan claims that almost all major treasure handed into museums over the past fifteen years has been found by treasure hunters and not archaeologists. 

The sport has been partially outlawed by the Monuments Act and the magazine 'The Searcher' which comes to Ireland from England has been banned. There are now moves in England to challenge Irish law which forbids people from searching in certain areas. 

Denis Lynch of the Metal Detecting Society of Ireland claims that there is a fear in Britain amongst hobbyists that this Irish legislation would be reproduced there. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 15 October 1989. The reporter is Gerry Reynolds.