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Hill of Tara — News

Irish Times: Call for an end to clearing of trees near Tara


Call for an end to clearing of trees near Tara
Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

Irish Times
Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Save Tara campaign has urged Opposition TDs to call a halt to the
"premature clearing" of trees in the Gabhra Valley, east of the Hill of
Tara in Co Meath, and to reroute the M3 motorway "before we pave over
history, literature and archaeology".

In a statement yesterday, it said that the public should visit the
sites where trees had been felled to verify - contrary to claims by its
proponents - that the motorway would be closer to Tara than the
existing N3.

Save Tara said that the tree-felling at Rath Lugh, near Lismullin, and
at Blundelstown "shows without doubt that the new road and the planned
interchange are closer to the top of the hill than the existing road".

Noting that the Gabhra river runs beside the N3, it said that the
motorway would drive over it.

Gabhra means "white mare", and horses are associated with the kingship
of Tara. Horse bones were found on the hill.

The valley was associated with the deaths of the Fianna. "Here is the
site of the Battle of Gabhra, where the King of Tara battled with the
Fianna and both he an the famous champion Oscar were killed along with
many others," the statement said.

"Rath Lugh contains the name of the old Irish god Lugh, who took over
his kingship on the top of the Hill of Tara and is celebrated in the
Festival of Lúnasa. It was one of the outer defensive forts of Tara,
and the present route will cut it away from its natural centre. This
extraordinary rath would then sit at the edge of a motorway, completely
out of context."

The statement said that three Tara experts had warned of this "rather
ignominious end for a once proud and important monument". In a paper in
2004, Joe Fenwick, Conor Newman and Edel Bhreathnach said that the M3
would "destroy the spatial and visual integrity of the archaeological
and historical landscape of Tara as well as removing from it key
component monuments".

visit http://www.tarawatch.org

Irish Times: Protesters bring temporary halt to work on new M3 motorway


Protesters bring temporary halt to work on new M3 motorway
Fiona Gartland

Irish Times
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Preparatory work for the new M3 motorway from Clonee to Kells in Co
Meath was temporarily disrupted yesterday when Save Tara campaigners
held a protest against the controversial road.

A handful of protesters entered a site at Baronstown, near
Dunshaughlin, where scrub, trees and soil were being removed. They sat
in front of machinery that was being used to move the scrub. They also
sat in the buckets of earth-moving equipment to prevent them from being
used.

Work on the site was halted and workers vacated the area in advance of
an inspection by health and safety consultants.

The action marked the beginning of a campaign against preparatory tree
felling along the route of the M3, including near national monument
Rath Lugh, the site of a promontory fort in the Tara-Skryne Valley and
at Ardsallagh, where a large number of trees have been removed.

Protesters argued that work other than archaeological excavation should
not be taking place before an oral hearing on the National Roads
Authority (NRA) draft tolling scheme for the motorway takes place later
this month and before contracts have been signed with Eurolink, who are
the preferred bidder for the project.

Eric Burke, a protester who lives close to Ardsallagh and whose garden
is included in a compulsory purchase order for the road, said the tree
felling began just before Christmas.

"They did not give us notice the trees would be coming down, they just
came in and did it," he said.

"They haven't finalised the tolling scheme yet, so why have they
started this?"

Local Sinn Féin councillor Joe Reilly has called for work on the route
of the M3 to cease as the public-private partnership contract has not
yet been signed.

However, a spokesman for the NRA said the preparatory work was not part
of the main contract to build the M3 but was being done ahead of the
site transfer and was being carried out by a firm sub-contracted to
Meath County Council.

He also said the draft tolling scheme was a separate issue from the
construction of the motorway and the motorway could still go ahead
regardless of the outcome of the oral hearing.

"The gap can be filled in other ways," he said.

On yesterday's protest, the spokesman said the contractor had taken
appropriate measures.

"There was no need to cause controversy, the decision was to make sure
no one was put in harm's way, even if they were willing to put
themselves in harm's way. The mature stance was not to engage and to
move to work elsewhere," he said.

"That is what the contractor did. A health and safety consultant was
called in and the gardaí were informed of the situation, but because it
did not escalate they did not need to come out."

Motorway opponents protest against felling of Tara trees


10:28 Wednesday January 3rd 2007
http://www.unison.ie/breakingnews/index.php3?ca=9&si=103913

Opponents of the new M3 motorway in Co Meath have mounted a demonstration in the Tara-Skryne valley today to protest at the felling of trees along the route of the proposed road.

The protestors are accusing the National Roads Authority of tearing down mature trees at several sites on the route, including the historic Rath Lugh area.

The National Roads Authority has defended the work, saying it is part of normal preparations for the motorway project.

The authority also says it is currently the best time of year to carry out the work without disturbing the local wildlife.

Hill of Tara — Images (click to view fullsize)

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News

Motorway opponents protest against felling of Tara trees (Ireland)


Motorway opponents protest against felling of Tara trees

10:28 Wednesday January 3rd 2007
http://www.unison.ie/breakingnews/index.php3?ca=9&si=103913

Opponents of the new M3 motorway in Co Meath have mounted a demonstration in the Tara-Skryne valley today to protest at the felling of trees along the route of the proposed road.

The protestors are accusing the National Roads Authority of tearing down mature trees at several sites on the route, including the historic Rath Lugh area.

The National Roads Authority has defended the work, saying it is part of normal preparations for the motorway project.

The authority also says it is currently the best time of year to carry out the work without disturbing the local wildlife

See images at http://www.tarawatch.org

See also:

Irish Times: Protesters bring temporary halt to work on new M3 motorway 4 Jan
Irish Independent: Tara protesters disrupt work on M3 4 Jan
Irish News: M-way protestors vow to save Tara heritage site 4 Jan
Irish Times: Call for an end to clearing of trees near Tara 6 Jan


To sign our petition please go to http://new.petitiononline.com/hilltara

Hill of Tara — News

Tara campaigner appealing to Supreme Court today


From an article in the Meath Chronicle by John Donohoe, published Saturday April 22nd 2006 -

Vincent Salafia, who lost the recent High Court case against the M3 motorway, is today (Wednesday) giving Notice of Appeal of the decision to the Supreme Court.

Notice will be officially given by Mr Salafia to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Meath County Council; the Attorney General and the National Roads Authority, who were all parties to the case.

The challenge by Mr Salafia to the proposed route of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara was dismissed on all grounds by the High Court in March. Mr Justice Thomas Smyth ruled Mr Salafia was not entitled to succeed in any of his claims because of an unjustified two-year delay in bringing them. He considered all the arguments made by Mr Salafia, including claims that certain provisions of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 were unconstitutional, and rejected all of those.

The judge ruled the legislature is entitled to regulate land and road developments in the interests of the common good, even where that involves interference with property rights and national monuments.

The Act had introduced changes in relation to how national monument protections were controlled, the legislature was entitled to choose to give qualified protection to national monuments and the court could not strike down section 14 of the Act, as sought by Mr Salafia, simply because a different or better balance could have been struck, he said.

Mr Salafia had asked the court to make a declaration that the greater Tara landscape - the Hill of Tara/Skryne Valley - is a national monument or a complex or series of national monuments within the meaning of the National Monuments Act, but the judge declined to do so. Mr Justice Smyth said there were differences between Mr Salafia and between Mr Salafia's experts as to what constituted the core Tara area.

In those circumstances and in the absence of any representation in the proceedings for people in the Tara area who would be directly affected by such a declaration, it was not permissible for the court to make any such declaration.

Among other key findings of Mr Justice Smyth was that even if the Supreme Court upheld arguments in its forthcoming judgment on the Carrickmines Castle case that Section 8 of the National Monuments Amendment Act was unconstitutional, he was satisfied that protections for national monuments, which he held were built in to Section 14 of the same Act, were "constitutionally sound".

Meanwhile, TaraWatch, a group supporting Mr Salafia's case, says it will continue to lobby the Government to halt work in the Tara Skryne Valley on all archaeological sites. While TaraWatch maintains that all monuments in the valley are part of the national monument of Tara, by association, two newly discovered monuments at Collierstown and Baronstown are discrete national monuments in their own right, and should be protected.

The NRA archaeologist, Mary Deevy, points out that these sites have not been fully excavated yet, and were included in the report furnished to Minister Dick Roche prior to his decision on excavations along the route. They are known about since 2004.

Preliminary topsoil testing and removal was carried out on the sites which are possible prehistoric or early medieval. The Baronstown site is a large ditched enclosure complex which was a possible ritual enclosure or settlement complex, while the Collierstown site, a single pit with an intact pot, was a burial site.

Irish Independent: Motorway challenge heads for Supreme Court


Tarawatch - Thursday, April 20th 2006

Campaigners battling to re-route the controversial M3 motorway away from the Hill of Tara yesterday served Environment Minister Dick Roche with notice of a Supreme Court challenge to the project.

Lawyer Vincent Salafia revealed he was appealing a High Court ruling clearing the way for the divisive road which snakes its way through the ancient capital of Ireland's kings.

But he said with a general election due next year he was still hopeful the Government would try to appease voters by doing a U-turn on the project.

"While the case is proceeding logically to the Supreme Court, and Europe if necessary, we are still hoping for a political decision by the authorities to review the situation and consider re-routing the Tara section of motorway," he said.

"With an election coming up, the Government is acutely aware that 70pc of people surveyed nationally in 2005 said they wanted the motorway rerouted away from Tara.

"The M3 actually goes over 3km off course to the east, to split the Tara valley, which has few inhabitants. If it went the same distance in the opposite direction it would service Trim and save Tara."

Mr Salafia lost his High Court challenge to the M3 last May. He claimed the National Monuments Act 2004 was unconstitutional, because it did not pass the test laid out by Justice Laffoy in the M50/Carrickmines Castle case.

In that hearing she recognised the constitutional imperative on the Stateto protect the nationalheritage.

Ultimately campaigners believe the case will go to the European Courts with Strasbourg judges asked to rule on the route on the basis that Tara is part of European heritage, not just Irish.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hilloftara/message/663

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Hill of Tara — News

Hill of Tara case costs awarded against objector


From an article by Mary Carolan, published by the Irish Times on Thursday, March 16th 2006 -

Environmentalist Vincent Salafia was ordered by the High Court yesterday to pay a legal costs bill, which could exceed €600,000, arising from his unsuccessful challenge to the proposed routing of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.

However, Mr Salafia is appealing to the Supreme Court against the High Court's rejection of his case earlier this month and his lawyers are expected to ask the Supreme Court to put a stay on payment of the costs pending the outcome of the appeal.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth yesterday rejected arguments on behalf of Mr Salafia, of Dodder Vale, Churchtown, that he should be given the costs of his proceedings and instead directed that Mr Salafia pay the costs incurred by the State, Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority in opposing his case.

The judge said it was his view that Mr Salafia had acted out of "a personal dislike" of the proposed M3 route and there were no special circumstances in the case that would justify awarding costs to him.

While Mr Salafia was entitled to espouse a career regarding the environment or as a "professional objector", public funds should not be spent on a case aimed at rerouting a road to protect the sources of Mr Salafia's study interest, which were not national monuments, the judge said.

He awarded costs of the respondents against Mr Salafia and refused an application by Mr Colm MacEochaidh, for Mr Salafia, to put a stay on the costs order in the event of an appeal. A stay was a matter for the Supreme Court, he said.

Afterwards, Mr Salafia said that while his action was taken on an individual basis, he had the support of many people in Ireland and internationally. He said national monuments have been discovered at Tara and work there should cease immediately. "The Irish people's greatest treasures continue to be pilfered."

Mr Salafia had initiated proceedings in 2005 challenging ministerial directions relating to the treatment of archaeological works on the M3 route. An Bord Pleanála had granted permission for the road scheme in late 2003 and the High Court had said Mr Salafia should have initiated his challenge then.

Mr Salafia had argued he was involved at that time in the campaign to save Carrickmines Castle and believed there would be no interference with national monuments at Tara because of legislation then in force.

It was argued he could not be expected to know the Government would in 2004 introduce the National Monuments Amendment Act which, Mr Salafia claimed, removed the existing protections for national monuments.

In his judgment of March 1st dismissing Mr Salafia's challenge, Mr Justice Smyth found the delay in bringing the case disentitled Mr Salafia to any of the reliefs he had sought. The judge also found Mr Salafia did not have the necessary legal standing to bring his case and rejected claims that the disputed provisions of the 2004 Act were unconstitutional.

Ruling on costs yesterday, the judge said Mr Salafia had given an "unconvincing" explanation for not bringing his case earlier and he had substantially lost on all the issues raised. The litigation had cost time, money and effort and the costs should not come out of the public purse, the judge added.

On complaints by Mr Salafia that his case suffered because of the ruling against hearing oral evidence from archaeologists and experts, the judge said there was never any assurance that such oral evidence would be heard. It was not the fault of the respondents that Mr Salafia's case did "not live up to its billing", he said.


Save Tara!

European Court of Justice may have final say over heritage dispute


From an article published by the Irish Times on Thursday, March 2nd 2006 -

The battle for Tara is not over yet, writes Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

The odds were stacked against anyone succeeding in a legal action against the M3. So it is not surprising that the High Court has found in favour of Minister for the Environment Dick Roche and his "directions" allowing this controversial motorway to snake past the Hill of Tara.

The 2004 National Monuments (Amendment) Act rewrote heritage protection legislation in such a drastic manner that the Minister was given sole discretion in deciding whether any archaeological site is a national monument and what to do with it - including authorising its demolition.

That was Martin Cullen's contribution to the statute books following the row over Carrickmines Castle in south Co Dublin, when archaeologists and conservationists were blamed for holding up completion of the M50. The Government was determined this wouldn't happen again. However, the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the final appeal in the Carrickmines case by Dominic Dunne and, in particular, on his challenge to the constitutionality of the 1994 legislation.

The court's tardiness - it recently deferred its decision for the fourth time - may have proved fatal for the Tara case.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth referred to the appeal before the Supreme Court in his lengthy judgment yesterday. But its tone and content suggests that he would have ruled against plaintiff Vincent Salafia anyway, on other grounds - including his delay in taking the action in the first place.

Mr Justice Smyth had ruled that it was not necessary to call expert witnesses and have them cross-examined. This hampered the plaintiff because it meant that the court did not hear from, for example, Dr Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland.

Dr Wallace made it clear to Mr Roche last April that he opposed routing the M3 through the Tara valley, arguing that it is an archaeological landscape that deserves to be protected. He was particularly critical of the Blundelstown interchange, just 1.2 kilometres north of the ancient capital of Ireland's kings.

It might also have been instructive to hear oral evidence from the Government's Chief Archaeologist, Brian Duffy, who backed the National Roads Authority and Meath County Council, even to the extent of suggesting that the M3 motorway itself would become part of Tara's legacy in the years to come.

His perverse view was strongly opposed in affidavits by three leading experts on Tara - Dr Edel Bhreathnach, Dr Conor Newman and Joe Fenwick - who argued that Tara must be seen as part of a much wider archaeological landscape which would be irreparably damaged by a motorway running right through it. Mr Roche could have decided that the NRA and Meath County Council would have to go back to the drawing boards and devise an alternative route. Instead, he chose to issue "directions" on how the 38 Archaeological sites along the existing route should be treated.

The "directions" he issued on May 11th last were carefully crafted to suggest that the interests of Ireland's heritage were being looked after, thereby (hopefully) fire-proofing his decision against legal challenge. However, in the absence of a Supreme Court ruling on the Carrickmines appeal and the thorny issue of whether the 2004 National Monuments (Amendment) Act fulfils the onus on the State to protect our heritage, this confidence may be misplaced. The battle, in other words, is not yet over.

Even if the Supreme Court was to rule that the 2004 legislation is constitutional and subsequently rejected an appeal by Mr Salafia against yesterday's High Court judgment, the European Court of Justice may take a different view, on the basis that Tara is part of Europe's heritage too.

Save Tara!

Challenge to M3 route near Hill of Tara rejected


Challenge to M3 route near Hill of Tara rejected
Mary Carolan

The Irish Times
Thu, Mar 02, 06

A challenge by environmentalist Vincent Salafia to the proposed route of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara has been dismissed on all grounds by the High Court.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth ruled Mr Salafia was not entitled to succeed in any of his claims because of an unjustified two-year delay in bringing them. He considered all the arguments made by Mr Salafia, including claims that certain provisions of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 were unconstitutional, and rejected all of those.


The judge ruled the legislature is entitled to regulate land and road
developments in the interests of the common good, even where that involves interference with property rights and national monuments.

The Act had introduced changes in relation to how national monument protections were controlled, the legislature was entitled to choose to give qualified protection to national monuments and the court could not strike down section 14 of the Act, as sought by Mr Salafia, simply because a different or better balance could have been struck, he said.

Mr Salafia had also asked the court to make a declaration that the
greater Tara landscape - the Hill of Tara/Skryne Valley - is a national monument or a complex or series of national monuments within the meaning of the National Monuments Act but the judge declined to do so.

Mr Justice Smyth said there were differences between Mr Salafia and between Mr Salafia's experts as to what constituted the core Tara area.

In those circumstances and in the absence of any representation in the proceedings for people in the Tara area who would be directly affected by such a declaration, it was not permissible for the court to make any such declaration.

Among other key findings of Mr Justice Smyth was that even if the
Supreme Court upheld arguments in its forthcoming judgment on the Carrickmines Castle case that section 8 of the National Monuments Amendment Act was unconstitutional, he was satisfied that protections for national monuments, which he held were built in to section 14 of the same Act, were "constitutionally sound".

He adjourned the case to March 14th when he is expected to rule on the issue of the costs of the proceedings, which ran for seven hearing days.

Mr Salafia, Dodder Vale, Churchtown, Dublin, had sought to overturn directions given by the Minister for the Environment in July 2005 regarding the carrying out of archaeological works on the site of the M3. He also challenged the constitutionality of section 14 of the 2004 Act on the grounds it gave the Minister an unreviewable and unfettered discretion to remove protections for national monuments.

The judge found the Minister had properly and lawfully issued his
directions, which related to an "approved" road development, under the correct section of the National Monuments Act - section 14.A.2.

There was no objection to the content of the directions.

The minister was not obliged to give directions which would modify the M3 route in any material way and had carefully considered material from Meath County Council regarding 38 archaeological discoveries made during test trenching of the M3 route, he said. The Minister had also considered detailed advice from the director of the National Museum.

He rejected Mr Salafia's argument that the directions should have been issued under section 14.A.4 of the Act.

The Minister was required to issue directions under section 14.A.4 only if a national monument had been discovered during the road project and no such discovery had been made, he said. None of Mr Salafia's experts had made claims to that effect.

He dismissed the claim that section 14.A.4 was unconstitutional because it gave the Minister an unfettered discretion to permit interference with national monuments and failed to set out principles and policies to govern that discretion. He said principles and policies were set out in the National Monuments Acts.

Earlier, Mr Justice Smyth said there was an obligation to bring
judicial review challenges promptly.

=====


Irish Times: Ruling due in March on M3 case


Ruling due in March on M3 case
Mary Carolan

Irish Times
Wed, Jan 25, 06


The High Court will give its decision on March 1st on the challenge by
an environmentalist to the proposed route of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.

After Mr Justice Thomas Smyth yesterday ruled that he did not require to hear oral evidence by archaeologists and other experts in order to determine legal issues in the case, the seven-day hearing concluded.

Counsel for Vincent Salafia had earlier argued that there were factual disputes in the case, particularly relating to whether the greater Tara area in itself constituted a national monument.

It was submitted that the court should hear oral evidence from experts on such matters and determine whether the greater Tara landscape was a national monument.

However, lawyers for the Minister for the Environment, the State, Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority argued that oral evidence was not necessary to determine the legal issues.

They submitted that none of Mr Salafia's experts had sworn on affidavit that any of 38 sites discovered during test trenching of the proposed M3 route constituted national monuments.

After hearing both sides, the judge said he had to ask himself whether oral evidence and cross-examination of experts would assist him in the determination of the identified issues in the case. The answer to that had to be no, he said.

While there were conflicting views and opinions by highly- qualified
experts on both sides, those views were not focused on any issue which he must determine, he ruled.

These matters of opinion regarding the archaeological landscape,
culture and heritage of the Tara area were extremely interesting, but
he had to keep firmly focused on the issues.

He did not see that his decision not to permit oral evidence deprived
Mr Salafia of any benefit in the case, the judge added.

Earlier, in closing arguments on behalf of Mr Salafia, Frank Callanan
SC said the role of archaeological and other experts, including the
director of the National Museum, had been "considerably diluted" under new laws enacted to deal with the discovery of national monuments during construction of a motorway.

The State had effectively argued in this case that it had no
substantive obligation regarding conservation of the national heritage, he said.

===

Court sets date in March for Tara motorway route decision

Irish Independent
Wed, Jan 25 06

Ann O'Loughlin

THE High Court will give its decision in March on the challenge by an
environmentalist to the proposed routing of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.

After Mr Justice Thomas Smyth yesterday ruled that he did not require to hear oral evidence by archaeologists and other experts to determine legal issues in the case, the seven-day hearing concluded and the judge said he would deliver judgment on March 1.

Counsel for Vincent Salafia had earlier argued that there were factual disputes in the case, particularly relating to whether the greater Tara area constitutes a national monument. It was submitted that the court should hear oral evidence from experts on such matters and determine whether the greater Tara landscape is a national monument.

However, lawyers for the Minister for the Environment, the State, Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority argued that oral evidence was not necessary to determine the legal issues and submitted none of Mr Salafia's experts had sworn on affidavit that any of 38 sites discovered during test trenching of the proposed M3 route constituted national monuments.

After hearing both sides, the judge said he had to ask himself whether oral evidence and cross-examination of experts would assist him in the determination of the identified issues in the case. The answer to that had to be no.

Opinions

While there were conflicting views and opinions by highly-qualified
experts on both sides, those views were not focussed on any issue which he must determine, he ruled. These matters of opinion regarding the archaeological landscape, culture and heritage of the Tara area were extremely interesting but he had to keep firmly focused on the issues.

He did not see that his decision not to permit oral evidence deprived
Mr Salafia of any benefit in the case, the judge added.

Mr Salafia, of Dodder Vale, Churchtown, Dublin, is seeking to overturn the directions given by the Minister and is also challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 on the grounds that they give the Minister an unreviewable and unfettered discretion todisapply protections for national monuments.

http://www.hilloftara.blogspot.com/

Telegraph - Seat of Celtic kings is threatened by motorway


Seat of Celtic kings is threatened by motorway
By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 13/01/2006)

A plan to build a motorway beside the hill where ancient Celtic kings were crowned has been challenged in court as campaigners fight to save a monument described by W B Yeats as the "most consecrated spot in Ireland".

The Irish government's proposal to build a new commuter route for Dublin through the valley containing the Hill of Tara has infuriated archaeologists, historians and conservationists.

Map

The battle, which has been depicted as a conflict between Ireland's mystical past and the materialistic modern nation of the Celtic Tiger, yesterday came to the High Court in Dublin.

The hearing, which is scheduled to last for five days, is the culmination of a two-year campaign to stop the 30-mile M3 motorway passing less than a mile from the coronation site of around 100 Irish High Kings in Co Meath.

Dublin's decision to press ahead with the road was challenged by Vincent Salafia, an environmentalist, who has argued that Dick Roche, the environment minister, should not have granted the motorway permission.

Gerry Hogan, senior counsel for Mr Salafia, claimed the legislation used to push through the project was unconstitutional.

He said the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 weakened the role of the Oireachtas (Ireland's national parliament) by giving the minister discretionary powers to determine the fate of the country's heritage. Mr Hogan claimed the state's duty to protect monuments had been "seriously compromised".

Under the terms of the Act, Mr Roche is able to decide whether to preserve a site on the basis of the public interest as well as archaeological considerations.

According to Pat Wallace, the director of the National Museum of Ireland, the Hill of Tara is one Ireland's most important treasures.

Mr Hogan told the court that 38 archaeological sites had been identified along the M3's route.

Tara's importance as a religious centre dates from around 4,000 BC. The oldest visible man-made feature is the Mound of the Hostages, which dates from the third millennium BC.

It is associated with Cormac Mac Art, the legendary Irish High King. Tara became a pagan spiritual and political centre in the third century AD. It has remained a potent symbol of Ireland's nationhood.

During the rebellion of 1798 the United Irishmen camped on the hill, but were attacked and defeated by British troops.

In 1843, Daniel O'Connell, the Irish MP, hosted a peaceful Home Rule political demonstration at Tara that is reputed to have attracted one million supporters.

The application for judicial review is being heard before Mr Justice Thomas Smyth. The environment minister, Meath county council, the National Roads Authority and the attorney-general dispute Mr Hogan's assertion that a wider zone around the hill should be considered part of the existing national monument.

The hearing continues.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/13/wtara13.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/01/13/ixworld.html

http://www.hilloftara.blogspot.com/

SIAC in prime position to build Tara motorway


Arthur Beesley, Senior Business Correspondent

Irish Times
Wed, Aug 10, 05

A consortium involving Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Irish group SIAC is now in prime position to build the €600 million M3 motorway between Clonee and Kells, the controversial project that runs through the Tara archaeological complex.

While the route chosen by the National Roads Authority will be the subject of judicial review hearings before the High Court in October, the Eurolink consortium formed by the two companies has emerged in first place from the initial phase of the tender process.

Their success in this competition marks a second coup for the group, which is already building the multimillion euro Kilcock-Kinnegad motorway. The M3 contract will be by far the largest public-private partnership initiative undertaken to date. The 110 km project includes almost 50 km of motorway.

The consortium will be expected to fund the building of the roadway and maintain and operate it for 45 years. While the terms of the Eurolink tender were not available last night, the consortium will receive tolls on the road and a State subsidy.

Eurolink is understood to have beaten off a rival tender from the Celtic Roads group. Its members include National Toll Roads, owner of the East Link and West Link bridges, the Ascon building group and Spanish construction giant Dragados.

"We have formally advised Eurolink that the company has been identified as the tenderer with the most economically advantageous tender for the M3 Clonee-Kells project," said a spokesman for the National Roads Authority.

"The authority will now proceed with discussions with Eurolink with a view to appointing the company as provisional preferred tenderer, which potentially will lead to the award of the contract for the project."

SIAC is understood to be raising its stake in Eurolink to 25 per cent for the M3 initiative.

Two court actions may have a bearing on the eventual route of the motorway.

The first of these is a judicial review action taken by conservationist Vincent Salafia, who is calling into question directions made by Minister for the Environment Dick Roche on the treatment of archaeological sites on the route.

Mr Salafia wants to test the constitutionality of Mr Roche's decisions under the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 2004.

He claims it is not necessary for the motorway to breach the Tara complex and says an alternative route between Navan and Dunshaughlin offers an alternative because it is shorter and would not breach the complex.

A forthcoming Supreme Court judgment in a case testing the
constitutionality of the 2004 Act in the context of the Carrickmines stretch of M50 motorway may have a bearing on this case. In a judgment that was challenged on a point of law, the High Court previously upheld the constitutionality of the Act in this case.


See: Hill of Tara / M3 litigation site- http://www.hilloftara.info

Majority want M3 routed outside Tara, survey finds


Majority want M3 routed outside Tara, survey finds

Irish Times
Sat, Aug 20, 05

A national survey has found 70 per cent of participants want the M3 motorway rerouted away from the Hill of Tara. Fiona Gartland reports.

The telephone survey, by RedCResearch found seven out of 10 people wanted the M3 to go ahead but outside the Tara-Skryne Valley. A third of respondents said they believed the Government gave enough consideration to alternative solutions such as a Navan-Dublin rail link.

More than 1,000 adults responded to the survey carried out in May for Tarawatch, a campaigning group set up to resist Government plans to route the M3 through the Tara-Skryne Valley.

The group also brought forward an alternative route at a meeting yesterday. The route, "Blue 2", chosen by the National Roads Authority and approved by An Bord Pleanála, passes east of the Hill of Tara and, according to Tarawatch, will destroy national monuments and valuable archaeology.

"Orange 1", its suggested alternative, passes west of the hill and "saves the core monuments of Tara from destruction, and is up to 3.5km shorter than the current route, increasing profitability and efficiency dramatically".

The group also held a protest at the M50 toll booth yesterday. Toll bridge operator National Toll Roads was named last week as the preferred bidder to build and operate booths on the M3.

Green Party deputy Ciarán Cuffe said a good case had been made for moving the road and he supported the campaign for an alternative route. Sinn Féin deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh also pledged his support.

Construction of the motorway depends on the outcome of court action in October.

Environmental activist Vincent Salafia was given leave by the High Court in July to bring proceedings to secure its rerouting. The action, against the Minister for the Environment, Meath County Council, the Attorney General and the National Roads Authority, will challenge directions given by Minister for the Environment Dick Roche regarding the treatment of 38 known archaeological sites along a stretch of the proposed motorway.

The result of October's High Court case could also be significantly affected by a Supreme Court decision concerning the routing of the Southern Cross motorway near Carrickmines Castle.

An NRA spokesman said it had no doubt that most people supported the Bord Pleanála-approved route.

"We put a lot of time and effort into coming up with this route and the board approved it," he said. "We are now anxious to get to the point where construction can start."

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Hill of Tara / M3 litigation site: http://www.hilloftara.info

Eire — News

Irish Times: Historic sites Bill likely to face legal challenge


Daniel McConnell

The Irish Times
17 June 2004

Opponents of newly-published legislation, which will give the Government power to proceed with road projects which interfere with national monuments after archaeological works are carried out, have threatened to challenge the legislation in the courts.

Protesters gathered outside the Dáil yesterday to voice their opposition to the National Monuments Bill, which, when passed, will clear the way for the motorway at Carrickmines in Dublin to be completed.

The protesters claim the legislation will legalise badly-designed roads, and not protect national monuments.

They also claim the Bill is in breach of the Valletta Convention, to which Ireland is a signatory and which stresses that national heritage sites are afforded European recognition.

An Taisce last night called into question the wisdom of introducing legislation with far-reaching repercussions without a Green Paper or any other democratic consultation.

Speaking on behalf of An Taisce, Dr Mark Clinton said: "If Minister Cullen's intervention is ultimately going to destroy the heritage of the nation, surely he should encourage a proper debate so the public can decide whether they want to maintain our heritage or destroy it."

Mr Vincent Salafia, leader of the Anger Strike against the National Monuments Bill, accused the Government of placing Ireland's heritage in serious danger.

He also warned that any legislation passed would be met by legal action. "We are determined to meet this head on. The legislation will without question be met by a legal challenge.

"Had this Government acted properly and efficiently two years ago, the road would now be built, the castle would be saved and everyone would be happy."

He said the Bill was nothing more than a quick fix.

The Green Party leader, Mr Trevor Sargent, said the Bill would place the future of Irish tourism in jeopardy.

"Tourism is an essential part of Ireland's economy, with millions travelling here every year to get a flavour of Ireland's golden age, and this piece of legislation sends out the wrong message to an already dissatisfied public."

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr Cullen, said yesterday that people have a right if they choose to go to the courts.

However, he stressed that the Bill aimed to protect heritage, deliver infrastructure and safeguard the taxpayer. It would enable the completion of the South Eastern Motorway.

Newly-elected Sinn Féin MEP Ms Mary Lou McDonald said Sinn Féin supported the opposition to the Bill.

National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004

Irish Independent: 'Ill-conceived' bill threatens heritage sites


Irish Independent
17.06.04

Save Tara!

IMPORTANT archaeological sites, including Ireland's oldest Viking settlement, will be threatened if the Government's proposed amendment to the National Monuments Bill is passed, heritage activists said yesterday.

Campaigners for Waterford's Viking remains, Trim Castle and Clondalkin's round tower and other sites staged a united protest at Dail Eireann against the emergency legislation.

They were joined by Green Party leader Trevor Sargent and Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald.

The campaigners have called on members of all political parties to oppose the bill, which is due to be debated in the Dail today.

Spokesman for the Save Tara Skreen Valley Group, Vincent Salafia, said that if the amendment is passed into law, it "will open the floodgates for any heritage site to be interfered with by the Government".

Mr Salafia added that it was "another arrogant attempt by Mr Cullen to force through an ill-conceived piece of legislation". Campaigners also
claim it breaches the European Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage.

Grainne Cunningham

Irish Examiner: Cullen 'failing to protect heritage sites'


Irish Examiner
17/06/04


By Jim Morahan

HERITAGE groups yesterday accused Environment Minister Martin Cullen of
failing to protect national monuments.

They protested outside the Dáil yesterday at Mr Cullen's attempt to plug heritage loopholes in the wake of the M50/Carrickmines Castle debacle.

Mr Cullen claims his newly published bill to amend the 1994 National Monuments Act not only addresses the legal battle surrounding the medieval ruins in South Dublin, which has delayed completion of the road, but also provides markers for the development of road infrastructure when confronted by archaeological finds.

Members of the Save Tara/Skryne Valley Campaign, who are opposing controversial developments planned for Co Meath, called on the opposition parties to oppose the Bill.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent and Labour environment spokesperson Eamon Gilmore have pledged to support their fight.

The group claimed the bill was designed to legalise badly designed roads and would reduce protections for national monuments.

Heritage legal expert Vincent Salafia said the 1994 Act was designed to prevent "another Wood Quay" the destruction of the Dublin Viking settlement in the late 1970s.

Now they faced "three Wood Quays"; at Carrickmines, Waterford's Viking
remains in the path of the Waterford bypass, and Trim Castle, Co Meath, where a hotel is planned.

"Like e-voting, this bill is another arrogant attempt by Minister Cullen to force through an ill-conceived and badly researched piece of legislation" he added.

Independent Meath and Trim councillor Phil Cantwell said the question of heritage was a big issue for the people.

Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolchain of the Co Meath group called on the academic community and the public to take a stand.

"It is time to draw the line in the sand before we disgrace ourselves completely in the eyes of the civilised world," she said.

Labour describes Monuments Bill as 'official vandalism'


TaraWatch

Irish Times
Marie O'Halloran
18.06.04

A Bill to allow for the completion of the M50 motorway at Carrickmines will legalise "official vandalism" of national monuments, the Labour Party's environment spokesman has claimed.

Mr Eamon Gilmore said the Bill goes "way beyond the completion of the M50" and would allow the Minister for the Environment to "demolish, sell or export any national monument".

He said it allowed the Minister to order that "an archaeological obstacle to a particular development be bulldozed".

Mr Gilmore alleged the Bill would have "more significance" for the road development at Tara and Skryne in Co Meath. He added that it would have "major implications for archaeology and heritage" of the "entire Celtic world".

But the Minister, Mr Cullen, accused him of being "grossly unfair" and of "raising the temperature".

It was "without foundation" to say the Government was in any way interested in bulldozing monuments, he said.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said as he introduced the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill.

The legislation allows for the M50 motorway to be completed, following a High Court judgment cancelling an order by the Minister to allow it to be finished at Carrickmines.

Mr Cullen said the director of the National Museum would be consulted in dealing with the archaeological finds. Mr Gilmore stated, however, that the director would only have 14 days to respond. He said it was "absolutely nonsensical" that he could make a case to save a major find within that time.

The Minister said: "we must be able to state that all archaeological finds must be protected and that we may have to undertake substantial archaeological assessments in those areas".

Before construction started, "modern geophysical assessments can be undertaken, but that does not determine absolutely what may or may not be found when work begins".

He thought that in such a situation everyone would want "to ensure that there was a mechanism to stop the potential for anyone to bulldoze and construct".

Mr Cullen said a magnificent job had been done at Carrickmines. However, he added: "I went out expecting to find a castle. There is no castle."

Fine Gael's Ms Olivia Mitchell said the Minister "has had to deal not only with the Carrickmines issues but the possibility of similar cases arising".

She believed the legislation would "provide some clarity as to how these issues can be addressed". The delay at Carrickmines had had an "incalculable" effect on business at the Sandyford industrial estate, she said.

Some tenants had moved out because traffic delays had made it impossible to trade. "It could take over an hour to move a couple of hundred yards."

Mr Finian McGrath (Independent, Dublin North-Central) said that while he supported and respected "the protection of our culture and archaeological sites, when I see the estimated costs of 6 million with regard to Carrickmines, I must cry 'stop'."

Mr Cullen informed Mr McGrath that the department was spending more than 20 million a year on archaeology for Carrickmines alone.

The Green party leader, Mr Trevor Sargent, said that the job of infrastructural development needed to be separated from the archaeology
role. The Minister could not be the referee if he had a vested interest in both, he said.

The debate was adjourned until next Tuesday.

Monuments Bill 'legal vandalism' claims Labour


Monuments Bill 'legal vandalism' claims Labour

Irish Independent
18.06.04

Save Tara!

OFFICIAL vandalism of national monuments would be made legal by the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill - to effectively give power to the Minister for the Environment to have the M50 around Dublin completed - it was claimed in the Dail yesterday.

Labour TD Eamon Gilmore said: "It will allow the minister, as his discretion, to demolish, sell or export any national monument."

The completion of the south eastern motorway has been delayed by a High Court decision which quashed the approval order for building the road at Carrickmines Castle on what the court described as a "technical glitch".

Labour, the Green Party and Sinn Fein objected to the Bill in that it had been signalled as a "simple Bill to allow for the completion of the M50 at Carrickmines". They claimed the Bill was about much more than that. Fine Gael backed the Bill.

While all parties agreed the road urgently needed to be completed, they protested that enough time was not being allowed for discussion.

Environment Minister Martin Cullen denied either he was in any way interested "in bulldozing any monuments".

He said he would have a major national monuments Bill hopefully before the end of the year, but the Bill introduced yesterday was to cater for the Carrickmines delay.

He pointed out there were other major infrastructural projects under way about which there was no methodology for any archaeological mitigation arising from the court decision. The Bill was necessary for now to protect all those sites.

Tanaiste Mary Harney said the Bill was necessary because of the court decision on Carrickmines.

"Million of taxpayers' money is being wasted because we cannot proceed with this," she said. Fine Gael deputy Olivia Mitchell said the Bill would deal with the issues thrown up by an archaeological discovery.

The debate continues next week.

Geraldine Collins, Dail Correspondent

Hill of Tara — News

Tara Valley M3 Plans Show Nothing is Beyond the Pale for the Road Lobby


Sunday Tribune 29 February 2004

Diarmuid Doyle

There is no such thing as compromise once local authorities and the Department of the Environment decide a road should be built. They announce their plans, local residents come up with alternatives, these are ignored and An Bord Pleanala passes the original plans.

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I'm the man on the Navan bus. Every day, morning and evening you'll see me huddled in a seat, wrapped in headphones and listening to Morning Ireland or the Last Word. I've been doing it for years. I know the N3 intimately now, every bump in the road, every signpost and pothole. I know all the sheep in the fields by their first names. I know where all the traffic snarls are, and the feeling of frustration that comes with being caught in them. I know how badly congested Dunsaughlin can get, and I really want to meet the genius who decided that three lanes of traffic should merge into one near Clonee. I know, too, the feeling of gratitude when the bus driver takes the short cut there and we can leave all the madness behind.

But I believe that the new motorway planned for the route, which would cut thirty minutes off a journey from Dublin to Cavan, is as unnecessary a road as has ever been built in this country, an act of infrastructural vandalism of a kind not seen since Dublin Corporation rogered Wood Quay senseless back in the 1970s and 1980s.

Almost 700 million euro is to be spent on saving those 1,800 seconds, and the road is to be directed right through the middle of the Tara / Skryne valley, a site that is "one of the most culturally and archaeologically significant places in the world", according to an impressive list of academics and campaigners from all over the globe.

According to these people, who hail from Ireland, England, Wales, Belgium, Australia and the United States, and who wrote to newspapers last week, "many monuments [there] predate the Egyptian pyramids. The chamber within Tara's Mound of the Hostages is perfectly aligned with the full moon of Lughnasa and the rising sun of Samhain and Imbolg."

"The Hill of Tara has been a sanctuary for every generation since. It is precisely because it has remained intact, unlike many comparable European sites, that it holds a special key to understanding the continuous progression of European civilization. We are only just beginning to understand and appreciate how the Mound relates to the hundreds of other monuments in the archaeological complex, many of which will be destroyed if the valley is sliced in two."

No doubt this will seem a bit limpwristed and weak-kneed to those who believe that the requirement to get home before the end of the Six One news justifies the introduction of diggers to such an historical site. And there are many such people. The row over the Carrickmines Castle site recently highlighted the huge gulf between environmentalists and commuters, whose lives are being daily frustrated by weaknesses in what passes for transport policy in this country. It is a tension that can only increase.

There should be no such tensions over the N3/M3 however, for the very simple reason that the traffic problems on the route are simply not bad enough to justify the destruction that will be caused. The N3, as currently laid out, is a relatively untroubled route in terms of traffic chaos. Certainly, there are some blackspots, but not many, and these can be dealt with locally. A small bypass around Dunsaughlin, for example, would solve the traffic problem there for a fraction of the cost of the proposed new motorway. Likewise in Navan and Kells.

The plan to build the M3, which will also require the destruction of acres of woodland in Dalgan Park near Navan, one of the few areas around the town where people can go for a walk, highlights the extent to which the road lobby has taken over the asylum. There is now no such thing as compromise once local authorities and the Department of the Environment decide that a road should be built. They announce their plans, local residents come up with alternatives, these are ignored and An Bord Pleanala passes the original plans without any serious consideration of whether they are actually needed.

The proposed new M9 from Kilcullen to Waterford, expected to cost one billion euros (which means, of course, much more) is another example of the madness of the roads lobby. It is already a decent enough road, and such traffic congestion as there is can be dealt with locally.

The M3 is a worse insult, however, and not just because of the damage that will be done to the Hill of Tara area, once described as "our ceremonial and mythical capital". Local residents, far removed from the Nimby stereotype that attaches to some protestors, have come up with a series of alternative plans that would allow the authorities to achieve their aims while leaving the Tara / Skryne area unaffected. Last week's letter from all those luminaries also contained some good suggestions: improve the existing N3, which seems the most sensible plan given that the road is already in good enough shape; re-open the Navan-Dublin rail line; or simply build the new road in an alternative location. (A local group, Bellinter Residents' Association, has actually drawn up decent plans for such a route, which would be located between the N2 and N3).

The decision on the M3 will reveal a lot about the kind of county that Meath is to become over the next few years. Is it to be little more than a dormitory town for Dublin, a kind of park-and-sleep suburb where people's journeys from the capital are facilitated by long and expensive toll-roads. Or is it to be allowed to continue as a county in its own right, and retain the rights of its history, its archaeology, its identity and its pride? Having lived in the county for almost a quarter of my life, I know which answer I'd give.

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Save Tara! http://www.hilloftara.info / http://www.tarawatch.org
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