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'Launch Today of Tara UNESCO Petition Alleging Breach of International Law'

category international | history and heritage | press release author Wednesday June 04, 2008 13:50author by TaraWatch

Minister Gormley effectively wants to declare substantial parts of the M3 a World Heritage site

TaraWatch will launch a public petition today at a demonstration outside the AGM of the Irish branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), calling on ICOMOS and UNESCO to designate Tara a World Heritage site, but to insist that the M3 is rerouted first.


4 June 2008

'Launch Today of Tara UNESCO Petition Alleging Breach of International Law'

TaraWatch will launch a public petition today at a demonstration outside the AGM of the Irish branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), calling on ICOMOS and UNESCO to designate Tara a World Heritage site, but to insist that the M3 is rerouted first.

The demonstration will begin at 5.00pm, outside the offices of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, at 8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. The petition will be available at the demonstration and online after this evening's launch, at

The Petition calls for UN intervention and alleges that Ireland is in breach of it's commitments, in international law, under the World Heritage Convention. It also alleges that UNESCO and ICOMOS would be in breach of international law, by agreeing to inscribe the the Hill of Tara cultural landscape as a World Heritage Site, with the M3 motorway being constructed in the heart of it. The petition states:

- UNESCO adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (“The Convention”) in 1972. Ireland ratified the Convention in 1991.

- The Convention has as its goal the identification and protection of cultural and national heritage of “outstanding universal value”.

- The Hill of Tara complex qualifies as a natural and cultural landscape of outstanding universal value.

- Tara covers a much larger area than that the 100 acres of State-owned land on the summit of the Hill, which currently delimits the 'national monument'. The M3 passes through the middle of the area to be protected.

- The entire Tara archaeological complex and cultural/natural landscape should be declared a World Heritage site. Expert bodies, such as the Heritage Council, have recognised Tara consists of the entire Hill of Tara along with the Tara / Skryne valley, as well as the defensive forts that encircle the hill, including national monuments such as the defensive forts of Rath Lugh (to the east), Rath Miles (to the north) and Ringlestown Rath (to the west).

- Ireland has been in breach of the Convention since 1991, by failing to nominate the Hill of Tara to be a World Heritage site, until after the M3 motorway was approved.

- Article 3 of the Convention states: “It is for each State Party to this Convention to identify and delineate the different properties situated on its territory".

- A recent UN report on Ireland's implementation of the Convention found that “Inventories, established at national and local levels, have not been used as a basis for selecting World Heritage sites”

- This has resulted in the contradictory approach being taken by the Irish Government, which is on one hand facilitating destruction of significant parts of the Tara complex, and on the other, seeking International legal protection for those same parts.

- The Minister for the Environment, has breached his responsibilities under the Convention by initiating the inscription process of making Tara a World Heritage site, while at the same time, failing in his legal duty adequately protect the Tara complex from the immient threat of the M3 motorway.

- John Gormley, said in a department press release, 11 April 2008, that he did not see M3 motorway preventing the Hill of Tara from being nominated as a world heritage site. He said his department had engaged Dr Jukka Jokilehto, a member of ICOMOS to visit Tara and issue a report on it. It is these statements and actions that have as well as other failures to act, that have invoked the jurisdiction of international law.

- ICOMOS is an international non-governmental organization of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and sites, and is an offical Advistory Body to UNESCO, for purposes of implementing the World Heritage Convention.

- UNESCO and ICOMOS would also be in breach of the Convention by accepting the Minister's nomination of the Tara archaeological complex and cultural/natural landscape, without insisting that the M3 motorway is rerouted, while it still can be.

- National survey's have shown that 70% of Irish people want the M3 rerouted

- An Irish Times online survey showed that 82% of people want Tara declared a UNESCO site.

Laura Grealish of TaraWatch said:

"The petition supports the nomination of the Hill of Tara archaeological complex and natural landscape to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, but is opposed to the construction of the M3 motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley.

"The petition calls on UNESCO and ICOMOS to intervene and support the nomination of the Hill of Tara to the World Heritage list, but to insist that the M3 be rerouted first.

"We say 'YES UNESCO, NO Tara M3'

Vincent Salafia said:

- Minister Gormley's actions effectively seek to declare substantial parts of the M3 motorway a UNESCO World Heritage site, which would be owned and operated by the SIAC-Ferrovial toll company, and the National Roads Authority.

"Allowing the M3 to proceed would destroy the integrity of the site, and be a breach of the World Heritage Convention, which Ireland signed in 1992.

"The Irish Government has the power to reroute the M3 motorway, away from Tara. The petition alleges that it's failure to do so amounts to a breach of international law.


Contact: Laura Grealish 087-972-8603 / Vincent Salafia 087-132-3365

For more information see:

UN Report on Ireland's Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2005

Minister Gormley's press release

Irish Times poll results for “Do you think the Hill of Tara should be added to Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites?” (June 2007) available at

ICOMOS Ireland

ICOMOS International

UNESCO World Heritage centre:

TaraWatch /



Comments (2 of 2)

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author by TaraWatchpublication date Fri Jun 06, 2008 01:45author address author phone

Please sign this petition. Thanks Indymedia. We know how much youm love petitions!


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author by TaraWatchpublication date Fri Jun 06, 2008 14:41author address author phone

TaraWatch has been deemed a stakeholder and has been asked to make a formal submission
If you consider yourself a stakeholder in this issue, and want to make a submission opposing the M3 development, please contact TaraWatch at
The Sixth World Archaeological Congress (WAC-6), will meet in Dublin from 29th June to 4th July, 2008, at University College Dublin, and will hold a round table session about the ethics of the Hill of Tara / M3 motorway issue. WAC have identified TaraWatch as a stakeholder in this issue, and asked for a formal written position statement, in advance of the round table session. TaraWatch is in turn asking for submissions, from interested parties, which can be included in our submission.

The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only archaeological organisation with elected global representation. WAC holds an international Congress every four years to promote the exchange of results from archaeological research; professional training and public education for disadvantaged nations, groups and communities; the empowerment and betterment of Indigenous groups and First Nations peoples; and the conservation of archaeological sites.

The co-organisers of the WAC Ethics Forum have selected the M3 Motorway/Hill of Tara “debate” as one of two themes to frame and discuss in public round table sessions. TaraWatch was informed yesterday by Dr Angela Labrador, Department of Anthropology, at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, that WAC has identified them as a stakeholder for this debate. TaraWatch have been asked to submit a written position statement on the matter. This is part of the “Exploring WAC’s Approach(es) to Ethics Theme” sponsored by the WAC Standing Committee on Ethics.

Congress attendees are visiting Tara and Navan Forth Armagh for the WAC-6 Mid-Congress Tours on Wednesday 2nd July Tour 3:

“Tara and Navan – Royal Landscapes Tara in Co. Meath is associated with the high kingship of Ireland in the early medieval period. Emain Macha or Navan in Co. Armagh is the ancient capital of Ulster. Both sites are characterised by a range of archaeological sites going back in date to the Neolithic, but with a major monumental focus on the later prehistoric period. Tara and Navan both have enduring symbolic importance in modern Ireland and have been at the centre of recent debates about the impact of development.”

Co-incidentally, TaraWatch launched an international online petition drive yesterday, asking UNESCO and ICOMS to intervene in the Hill of Tara issue. The petition is also addressed to “all those in attendance at WAC-6”. The petition states that it would be a breach of international law, for UNESCO and ICOMOS to declare the Hill of Tara a World Heritage site, with the M3 motorway being built through the middle of it. TaraWatch has agreed to participate in the forum. A comprehensive position statement is being prepared, with the co-operation of a number of historians, archaeologists and lawyers. The paper alleges that it would be a breach of professional ethics, as well as the World Heritage Convention, and other international charters, for UNESCO and ICOMOS to allow the M3 construction to proceed through the Tara landscape. It is of critical importance that the online petition receives as many signatures as possible, with as many comments as possible, from as many countries as possible, before the WAC-6 forum. Please do whatever you can to promote it. We already got 200 in the first 24 hours, so we’re off to a good start.

WAC says it “seeks to promote interest in the past in all countries, to encourage the development of regionally-based histories and to foster international academic interaction. It is committed to the scientific investigation of the past, ethical archaeological practice and the protection of cultural heritage worldwide. It supports the empirical investigation and appreciation of the political contexts within which research is conducted and interpreted, and promotes dialogue and debate among advocates of different views of the past. WAC is committed to diversity and to redressing global inequities in archaeology through conferences, publications and scholarly programs. It has a special interest in protecting the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples, minorities and economically disadvantaged countries, and encourages the participation of Indigenous peoples, researchers from economically disadvantaged countries and members of the public. Past Congresses have been held in England, Venezuela, India, South Africa and the USA. Patrons for past Congresses include Prince Charles (WAC-1), Nelson Mandela (WAC-4) and Harriet Fulbright (WAC-5). Selected papers from these conferences are published in the One World Archaeology Series.”


TaraWatch is accepting submissions from individuals or groups who consider themselves stakeholders in this issue, and will include them in our formal submission to the WAC Standing Committee on Ethics. Please email your submission to, no later than Fri 20 June.


World Archaeological Congress


Petition to UNESCO, ICOMOS and WAC

World Heritage Convention

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