In today's Irish Times, Dick Roche refuses to deny charges he has ordered the Tara Temple demolition
On Wednesday, 2 May, TaraWatch learned that Minister Dick Roche has already drafted 'directions' under the National Monuments Act 2004 - section 14 A, that order the 'preservation by record' and demolition of the massive prehistoric temple enclosure or henge recently reported to have been found in the valley between the Hill of Tara and the Hill of Skryne, in County Meath.
These draft directions have already been sent to the National Museum, as part of 'consultation', required under the Act. Today's papers reveal that the Minister has already known for weeks about the site, since it was reported to him by the National Roads Authority. He only stopped the works on Tuesday because TaraWatch alerted the media on Tuesday morning, and threatened legal action.
This is the statment made to the media yesterday by TaraWatch:
2 May 2007
'Minister Has Already Made Directions to Demolish National Monument at Tara'
TaraWatch has learned that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche, has already made his decision to demolish the 'newly discovered' national monument in Lismullen, near Tara.
According to well-placed sources within the National Museum of Ireland, the Minister sent a set of draft 'directions' to the Director of the
National Museum as part of the statutory consultation process, required under section 14 A of the National Monuments Act 2004 when a national monument is discovered during ther course of roadbuilding.
In these directions Minister Roche directs that the national monument be preserved 'by record'. In other words, excavations will resume in a matter of days, and the massive enclosure will then be demolished.
Under the Act, the Director has no veto power over any decision the Minister makes. Consultation is simply a formality, to give the
appearance of checks and balances where they do not actually exist.
The Minister does have the power to preserve the monument 'in situ', and force a reroute of the motorway, as he did in Woodstown in 2005. However, the Minister has clearly decided against this option, which Dr Wallace preferred when previously consulted by the Minister about Tara, also in 2005.
Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said:
"How could a responsible decision on whether or not to demolish a complex national monument like this be made within 24 hours of its
discoverY? As he admits himself, archaeologists have not yet even uncovered much of the site.
"This decision will once again raise the legal issue of whether or not the National Monuments Act 2004 is constitutional. Although High Court Justice Mary Laffoy has recognised the existence of a constitutional duty on the Minister to protect the national heritage, the matter has not yet been fully addressed by the Supreme Court. This case may present that opportunity.
"There are many inconsistencies in the story so far. Yesterday the NRA admitted to Richard Dowling of RTE that they have known about the site for weeks. Why wasn't it mentioned by Minister Cullen at the M3 sod-turning ceremony on Monday? Why wasn't it reported to the Minister earlier? Or was it?
"We are continuing to take legal advice on the matter.
Vincent Salafia 087-132-3365
Siobhan Rice 086-319-9833
In today's Irish Times, Dick Roche refuses to deny that he sent draft directions for the demolition of the Tara temple to the National Museum for comment, as part of 'consultation'.
Tara ‘henge’ will be destroyed - claim
The Irish Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007
Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has already issued draft directions that would allow for the destruction of the recently discovered “henge” along the route of the M3 in Co Meath, it was claimed yesterday.
The environmental group TaraWatch said Mr Roche had sent draft directions to the National Museum to preserve the henge “by record”, a process that would facilitate photographs and written records being made before the henge is removed. Under Section 14A of the National Monuments Act 2004, if a national monument is discovered, the Minister is required to consult the director of the National Museum before deciding on what action to take.
Mr Roche told The Irish Times yesterday that he was in consultation with the National Museum, but he declined to elaborate on the nature of that consultation. Asked if he had sent draft directions to the museum to preserve the monument by record, as claimed by TaraWatch, Mr Roche repeated that he was “in consultation with the National Museum” and referred to his department’s previously issued comments on the discovery. On Tuesday the department said: “The Minister has consulted with the director of the museum on the directions that would be most appropriate in this instance from the point of view of best archaeological practice. Directions will issue as soon as possible after the Minister receives the director’s response. “The Minister is advised that the surviving elements of the monument are extremely fragile, underlining the need for an early decision on how to proceed.”
TaraWatch spokesman Vincent Salafia said the group had “well-placed sources within the National Museum” who were aware of draft directions that had been sent, which instructed that the monument be preserved by record. Dr Mark Clinton, chairman of An Taisce’s national monuments and antiquities committee, said: “The discovery of what could be called a temple, after the fashion of a comparable discovery at Emain Macha, seat of the kings of Ulster, is of obvious major significance. Such sites are extremely rare.” He called for full scientific excavation to be followed by reconstruction.
Labour Party environment spokesman Éamon Gilmore said the issue could have been avoided if the Government had accepted a November 2004 proposal that the M3 be developed immediately in three sections, “and that the controversial section, running through the Skryne Valley, be rerouted”. Fine Gael transport spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell has said she was “stunned” to learn that “more than 500 archaeologists, hired at a cost of €30 million, managed to miss a four-acre historical site while excavating for the new M3 motorway”.
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OTHER MEDIA STORIES TODAY:
Irish independent: Roche alerted weeks ago to major 'temple' on M3
Ireland Online: Hill of Tara will be lost under M3, warn campaigners
The Gaurdian: Relic find halts road construction
Monsters and Critics: Work stops on Irish motorway through ancient site after find
Irish Times -Letters to the Editor: Happenings at Tara
UTV: Campaigners concerned over motorway plans at Co Meath site
Irish Times - Irishman’s Diary: Tara and the Israelites (May 2)