The immediate risk from the recession and a lack of funds is the halting of post-excavation work and report completion. This has always been an issue but the recent collapse of multiple commercial companies compounds the issue. In some cases the problem goes beyond a lack of a report: site archives, samples and artefacts are likely to be at immediate risk of being lost. There is no easy solution to this but hopefully the opening of the new NMI storage facility might stop the worst consequences of the economic collapse, assuming they will take in incomplete archives.
Assuming it exists in the first place, making grey literature available is the next step. This means making it easy for anyone to access unpublished reports. In theory this is possible already as the DoEHLG holds all reports from licensed excavations but this requires travel to Dublin at restricted times, knowing exactly what you want in advance and dealing in paper copies. Nonetheless this centralisation of reports negates some of the problems of scattered reports our neighbours across the water need to deal with. There have been plenty of rumors in recent years that the DoEHLG has reports digitised and ready to go. Whatever issues are holding things back they need to be sorted and the reports urgently put online, preferably linked in to the exisiting geospatial database. In reality the grey literature will probably trickle out through a variety of web outlets (such as those referred to in the first post in this series) but this will inevitably make availability difficult and patchy.
Making the material truly accessible or in other words digestable by people other than hardcore archaeologists is perhaps the most difficult, expensive and time-consuming difficulty when dealing with grey literature. It does not mean dumbing down; the reality is most grey literature is barely readable to research archaeologists and requires a lot of work before anyone in their right mind would call it interesting or valuable. Important steps have already been taken in this respect, primarily through INSTAR funded projects (For a list of INSTAR project websites have a look here). The project I am most familiar with is the Early Medieval Archaeology Project in UCD. EMAP has succeeded with limited resources in assessing the scale of the grey literature problem in Irish early medieval archaeology and taken that process one step further by actually beginning to make it accessible through its recent settlement and dwellings report. Future plans include online interactivity with the project database as well as more traditional conferences and publications. Of course that all depends on adequate funding.
In reality the situation in Ireland is not completely dire, an awful lot of work is being done but there is a huge danger that drastic cuts in funding of things like INSTAR which cost minor amounts in the grand scheme of things could result in the loss of data which cost orders of magnitude more to produce. Much information has already been lost but the priority has to be to save what can still be saved and make it widely available as soon as possible. Grey literature represents a gigantic investment by the state and for a very small further investment it can be transformed into a resource that could, through participation, engagement and dialogue with the public, transform the way we as a society view our past and ourselves.