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On The Road to Hell - The Battle to Save theTara-Skryne Valley Begins

category national | history and heritage | feature author Saturday May 14, 2005 14:37author by redjade Report this post to the editors

'All hands on deck' sez Wag 'Stall them diggers'

No Alternative
But Legal Action

By Vincent Salafia
''The M3 will pass within 1,200 metres of the top of the Hill of Tara. A 52 acre interchange will be clearly visible from the Hill, and over 40 individual archaeological sites within the valley between Tara and sister hill Skryne will be systematically demolished by archaeologists using mechanical diggers. Then the bulldozers will finish the job.

Campaigners are now left with no alternative but to support a legal action that will seek a High Court injunction and judicial review of the Minister's decision.''

The Road to Hell
by Dr. Muireann Ni Bhrolchain
Spokesperson for
The Save Tara/Skryne Valley Campaign

The decision of the Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to give consent to "a programme of archeological works" to proceed "at sites along a section of the proposed M3 motorway" will ensure that for this government the M3 will be the road to hell. This is the worst planning decision that has ever been taken by an Irish government. We will be the laughing stock of Europe and the World. The Minister had the power to protect the monuments in the path of the motorway - instead he has chosen to destroy. To destroy the heart of our premiere sacred, ancient capital. The Minister and the Taoiseach will become the 'Terminators of Tara' if this road goes ahead.

A statement on behalf of Edel Bhreathnach, Joe Fenwick and Conor Newman who have worked on the archaeology, history and literature of Tara since 1991 says: "Today is not only a dark day for Tara, but a dark day for Irish culture". It goes on to say: "This is a shameful decision that will have repercussions far and wide."

Despite warnings from all the experts, the advice given by the Halcrow Barry Route Selection Report and by archaeological companies employed to give the NRA advice the Minister has chosen to plough ahead with this horrific desecration of Ireland's premier sacred site. The Taoiseach and Minister Roche met with myself on April 27th and again I emphasised to them how unadvisable this route was. The new CEO for the NRA met with Edel Bhreathnach and Conor Newman over the past week but again all our arguments fell on deaf ears.

This is but one battle in the war to protect our heritage. The excavations alone could take years and will be an unnecessary expense. But the next step is to take the case to the European Parliament, to go court in Ireland and to the European Court if necessary. The protests will now be escalated far beyond the polite noises that have been made heretofore. We cannot continue to allow this Government to ride roughshod over our cultural heritage.

The Minister has the nerve to say: "The directions which I have given represent a measured approach. They are both comprehensive and onerous. They protect heritage".

But then the Taoiseach of this government said: "I don't know who was there five thousand years ago and I'm sure they were very significant people". Well the 350 academics who signed a statement presented to the self-same Taoiseach could tell him all about who these "significant people" were.

Sam Green of the Landmarks Foundation, New York said in his recent letter to the Irish Times: "What are these politicians up to? Are they not to be compared to the Taliban, who erased their past with dynamite? … The world is in awe of Tara, the world reveres Tara. The world is watching with disbelief."

Is this our gift to our future generations?

No Alternative But Legal Action
By Vincent Salafia

The world is shocked and appalled at the directions to proceed with the proposed route of the M3, given today by Dick Roche, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Within hours of the decision, the LA Times, ABC News, BBC and the Guardian were featuring the story.

The M3 tolled motorway, approved by An Bord Pleanala in August 2003 is to run from Clonee to Kells, with two toll booths. The cost will be over 1 billion, with 30 million euros being allocated to excavate all sites within one year.

The M3 will pass within 1,200 metres of the top of the Hill of Tara. A 52 acre interchange will be clearly visible from the Hill, and over 40 individual archaeological sites within the valley between Tara and sister hill Skryne will be systematically demolished by archaeologists using mechanical diggers. Then the bulldozers will finish the job.

Campaigners are now left with no alternative but to support a legal action that will seek a High Court injunction and judicial review of the Minister's decision.

Numerous solicitors letters' have already been sent to: the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Meath County Council, the National Roads Authority, putting them on notice that the decision to proceed as planned would be illegal under Irish and EU law. Another possible Defendant will be the Public Private Partnership consortia that is awarded the contract to finance, design, construct and operate the Tara toll road. Several multinational companies are bidding on these contracts, including Kellogg Browne and Root, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Halliburton.

Legal advice is currently being taken and a challenge will proceed within the eight week Statute of Limitations time period. Now that directions, under the National Monuments Act have been given, the excavation contract will now be put out to tender. Cultural Resource Development Services Ltd is the company that is expected to be the only bidder on the contract. But that process must be complete before exavations can begin.

author by redjadepublication date Fri May 13, 2005 16:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Statement on behalf of Edel Bhreathnach (Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, UCD), Joe Fenwick (Dept of Archaeology, NUIG) and Conor Newman (Dept of Archaeology, NUIG) who have worked on the archaeology, history and literature of Tara since 1991:

Today is not only a dark day for Tara, but a dark day for Irish culture. Ireland’s premier landscape, an icon of our nationhood, is about to suffer an act of vandalism that will see a four-way motorway, a large intersection and undoubted secondary developments (irrespective of guarantees offered today, but likely to be swept away tomorrow) obliterate the landscape. All in the name of progress. The facade of valuing our heritage has crumbled. The truth is that the decision taken by the Government reveals the mockery of our official portrayal to the world that we pride our culture and heritage dearly. We do so only when it can be used to economic gain and when it does not get in the way of “progress”. No amount of prevarication by the Government, as expressed by the Minister for the Environment Dick Roche, about lack of powers or attempting to ameliorate the impact of the motorway on the Tara/Skryne Valley can hide the truth. This is a shameful decision that will have repercussions far and wide.

Since the earliest recording of historical events in Ireland in the seventh century, every significant event that took place at Tara and in its surrounding landscape has been recorded. Let there be no doubt that this event will receive the attention of future historians and that the judgement of history will be harsh on those who advocated and acquiesced to this decision.

Worldwide Scholars Petition Irish Govt to Stop Tara/Skryne M3 Motorway
& Photos of Edel Bhreathnach and Muireann Ni Bhrolchain delivering Scholars Petition...

author by John McDermott - removefiannafailpublication date Sat May 14, 2005 22:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have been intrigued by the simplicity of the Fianna Fail press releases in recent month as this controversy boils over to another expensive and drawn out struggle which I am sure the Soldiers of Destiny have no real heart for given that elections are looming.
Unless they feel that we still have a gombeen, uneducated population and there are not many votes at stake here....
The various Ministers(Cullen ,Roche),have not said "the route will not be changed"
They have declared "The route cannot be changed"
Are we missing something important here.
What exactly constitutes a political decision that "Cannot be changed"
And more importantly Why can it "not be changed."?
Would a revolution change it.?
would mass demonstrations leading to a change of government change it.?
Or is it something fixed immutably, on the polar axis of the Universe ?
(Fianna Fail,s Universe?)
Just curious...

author by Johnpublication date Sun May 15, 2005 09:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It makes excellent sense for the Government to proceed with the M3, regardless of how long the heritage lobby delays it. They claim they are not against the M3 in principle, but just against this particular route. They claim they would support the M3 if another route was chosen. Claptrap! Their website section' Motorway Madness' shows them to be just another anti-motor car bunch of fanatics. They have opposed every motorway built in the past decade and every motorway planned in the next decade. In each case the opposition claims to be not against the motorway in principle but just against the particular route chosen, always for some 'unique' reason: viking ruins, trees, snails, exotic species of grass. If the Government caves in and chooses another route, nothing is more certain than that the heritage lobby will find something along the new route to justify opposing it too. Even if these fanatics delay the M3 for 5 years, its still well worth the Government fighting them in the courts and not caving in now. Doing that will keep the heritage lobby focused on Tara. There is a limit to how much resources they have, both time and money. Forcing them into lengthy court battles over Tara greatly increases the chances of the Government proceeding with the rest of the motorway network without being continually hindered by the heritage lobby. The M3 itself is only 3 per cent of the badly-needed 1,000 kilometres of motorway planned by 2010. Even if the heritage lobby holds the M3 up in the courts until 2010, at least by that time the motorways to Belfast, Glaway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford will all be completed.

author by Sherlock Holmespublication date Sun May 15, 2005 11:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, your last post is complete crap. The protestors are not against roads, they are against the destruction of our heritage. The motorway will be blocked for years down to legal cases. The carrickminders were also not anti roads protestors, but against the proposed route. Heritage offers us a chance, to both, understand our past, and to delevop our tourism. To think that court cases will bankrupt the protestors shows that you have no real knowledge of previous heritage cases. As in the carrickmines case, the state will pick up the tab as it is in the national interest. Perhaps John, as a fianna failer, you can tell us why on every proposed motorway that destroys our heritage, there is always a fianna failer (or fianna fail buddy) who will fiancially benefit from the motorway. Take a look at Lawlor and co in carrickmines, and also at Cllr O'Reilly in Meath. There are no doubt more than these benefit from this cultural rape. Are you nothing but an apologist for Fianna Fail corruption, or do you just like defending your employers?

author by Rudigerpublication date Sun May 15, 2005 14:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Times article - 30/04/05

Don't mention the M3: hypocritical parading of Irish heritage

Those campaigning to protect the landscape of Tara from bisection by the proposed M3 motorway will be bemused to learn that the Irish pavilion at Expo 2005 in Japan features an image of the ancient seat of Ireland's high kings.

Not only that. The pavilion even has a centrally positioned harp motif on its slatted metal façade. "The harp that once thro' Tara's Hall the soul of music shed/ Now hangs as mute on Tara's wall as if that soul were fled . . .", as the old song goes.

The hypocrisy at the heart of the pavilion will be lost on most visitors to the Expo. They won't know that this parading of Ireland's heritage is promoted by a Government bent on sacrificing that heritage whenever it gets in the way of "progress".

As widely reported, the pavilion's centrepiece is a set of replica Irish high crosses, cast in plaster in the late 19th century. Once located in the rotunda of the National Museum, they are now displayed in another rotunda under a projection of changing Irish skies.

According to the brochure, available in English and Japanese, the pavilion "illustrates how the ancient traditions that produced the High Crosses of Ireland have continued through the ages and remains [ sic] at the heart of the Irish cultural identity".

It goes on to say that the pavilion celebrates "the Art of Life" reflecting the rich heritage of Ireland's Celtic art and culture from prehistoric times to the present day. It also features well-displayed replicas of the Tara brooch, the Book of Kells and other treasures.

Designed by Dublin-based Martello Multimedia, the exhibition includes a special mention of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), son of an Anglo-Irish surgeon and a Greek woman, who grew up in Dublin and spent his last 15 years in Japan, immersing himself in its culture and interpreting it to the west.

Contemporary Ireland is represented by such icons as the Spire of Dublin, the Luas bridge in Dundrum, pictures of well-known figures such as Bono and even a sheep farmer tending his flock under wind turbines. Needless to say, there isn't a mention of the M3.

One of the most inspired ideas was to project moving images of Ireland's varied landscape on the ceiling, angled at 45 degrees. Visitors watch it in groups of 12 from comfortable chairs tilted at the same angle and, for some, it has become an unofficial snooze zone.

Shamrock Chan (Seán), the pavilion's mascot, has also proved very popular, according to its director, Colm Sharkey (left), the son of a former Irish ambassador to Japan. Unfortunately, it was not mass-produced and, in any case, the pavilion has no shop to sell anything.

At weekends, the Irish pavilion attracts between 6,000 and 7,000 visitors. It is under the wing of the Department of the Taoiseach, headed by a man who - so far, at least - has remained deaf to the growing chorus of opposition to the route chosen for the M3.

That chorus now includes more than 300 academics and scholars from Ireland and abroad who have appealed for a rethink.

"If the motorway is constructed as currently planned, what does that say to the world about the cultural sensitivity of the Government?", they asked.

Certainly, what's being said to the world by Ireland's pavilion at Expo 2005 is little more than a big lie.

Frank McDonald

author by john McDermottpublication date Mon May 16, 2005 01:53author email jmcd444 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have read your interesting article about our Japanese spin/image.
Fascinating hypocrisy. Then again somebody was paid to do their best on highlighting our ancient culture...its not their fault.
All the stuff that still lies out there -waiting to be exposed about this government,s trickery and roguery, ...if it were to be held up to the light of day, -you could not make it up!
The fact is ,this country is under the control of a Mafia, a very cunning Mafia.A property speculators Mafia...
Every gallon of petrol in your car,every wheelie bin,every pay cheque, is their extortion revenue. The big payoff is the road building/rezoning /infrastructure scandal.
Fascinating really.!

Related Link: http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org
author by raghaillighpublication date Mon May 16, 2005 10:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Let's just cut to the chase and throw up a another Disney theme park - TaraLand.

author by Davepublication date Mon May 16, 2005 10:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the recent by election 80% of voters voted for parties who support the motorway past Tara. It was one of the chief issues in the election.
The existing road on which there is so much congestion is actually NEARER to Tara than the proposed motorway.
As the new road is constructed archaelogists will be on standby to excavate and record sites which are discovered along its course. Any artifacts will preserved and removed to a museum where those interested in Irish heritage myself included can see our history in comfort rather than trapsing across Tara in wellies in the pouring rain.
The Kings of Tara are dead and so are their grandchildren. There is nothing on Tara but a hump and a field of grass. Besides at the turn of the century a bunch of crackpots went digging for the Arc of the Covenant and tore the whole place up.
Centuries from now perhaps protestors will be against building a new intergalactic starship portal in Tara because they found the remains of a 21st century motorway?
There are 3 million people in the Republic of Ireland and wherever we step or build we are walking over the bones of ancestors and the remains of ancient settlements.
Does all modern activity and living come to a halt for fear we should step on some insignificant chamber pot that a sheep farmer used to crap into 20,000 years ago?
Does every old building be preserved and prevent the construction of new homes?
Maybe modern Dublin should be demolished entirely so that we can uncover the original Viking settlement?
A little cop on is in order.
21st century Irish people travel and do business and use petrol fueled automobiles and dress in arylic fibre clothing.
They do not use wooden carts pulled by donkeys anymore or wear woven cloth coloured with natural dyes or brandish shields and swords.
They don't worship the landscape or have spiritual beliefs of any kind really.
I think you should respect modern heritage and modern society.

author by a different Davepublication date Mon May 16, 2005 10:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The anti-M3 people as far as I can see are generally anti-car. The M3 is pro-safety, pro-economy, pro-family, pro-worker. Tara needs to be preserved as a part of our heritage but not as a green hillock.

author by redjadepublication date Mon May 16, 2005 16:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Independent Polls:
Do you agree that the approval of the M3 motorway is one of the "worst
planning decisions ever made"?


Yes 52.2%

No 47.8%

author by kevinpublication date Mon May 16, 2005 17:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The M3 is pro-safety, pro-economy, pro-family, pro-worker."

And you can say this with how much authority? Have you been consulting Mystic Meg and her crystal ball? How can you say that a motorway that hasnt been built yet is "pro-safety"?? Can you tell us exactly how many people are going to be killed on it?

I imagine the same arguments were put forward (and are still being put forward) for the continued expansion in all directions of the M50 - including the second WestLink bridge. How does the 3 hour tailback in the morning (repeated in the evenings) come out as being "pro-economy"?

As if any motorway was ever "pro-family" or "pro-worker". Maybe you should consult the dead workers from car accidents or their families. Or maybe talk to families of the detrimental effect of sitting in a car all day to go to and from work.

Building motorways and more roads NEVER EVER solves traffic problems. You dont even need to look at the M25 in the UK or other fabled magic solutions the Brits dreamed up, we have it right here on our doorstep with the M50.

The M50 was the answer to all the traffic problems. So it was built. Then it got clogged up. No, the NRA said, when its finished past Carrickmines, then everything will be OK. So that was done. Then it got clogged up. No, the NRA said - once we have a second Westlink, that will end the bottleneck. So that was built too. Then it got clogged up. So now we have the INSANE proposal of building an even BIGGER ring road around the city (lets call it the M5000) stretching from Drogheda down to, fuck knows, Rosslare perhaps? And gombeens in FF and other cohorts think that this, the holy grail (a new one every week) will finally solve the car problems. I'm no Green party hack but Trevor Seargeant was right when he said that the country was being run by chancers.*

The only answer to the M3 is to build a proper heavy-rail link that spurs off the Sligo line from before the Blanchardstown stop, taking in Ballycoolin (industrial traffic), Damastown, Clonee, Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin, and all the way out to Navan, taking in the commuter towns that M3 proponents say will solve all these people's problems. This is the ONLY way forward. The M3 will only shave about five minutes off a journey time from Navan to the Blanchardstown interchange (where traffic grinds to a halt and backs up for miles - this is not changeable). Making a bigger road ploughing through Tara is just stupid.

Some dickhead commentator in the Sunday Times yesterday said that the only way to win Tara is through presenting viable alternatives, and not with arguments steeped in mythology, history, verse etc. There is an amount of truth to this. Nobody in charge gives a shit about saving heritage or landmarks, so the only way to sway will be to show, with current examples, that building roads simply doesnt work.

(* then of course, you have the Greens shooting down a motion to end the Shannon stopover for US military flights at their conference, but thats another comment another day somewhere else)

author by clay - www.luxefaire.compublication date Mon May 16, 2005 22:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

they tell us that we lost our tails
evolving up from little snails
i say it's all just wind in sails
are we not men? we are DEVO!
we're pinheads now we are not whole
we're pinheads all jocko homo
are we not men? D-E-V-O
monkey men all in business suit
teachers and critics all dance the poot
are we not men? we are DEVO!
are we not men? D-E-V-O
we must repeat o.k. let's go!

author by John McDermott - removefiannafailpublication date Mon May 16, 2005 23:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Most expert commentators believe that the whole exercise will only move the traffic jam a few miles nearer to Dublin.(Blanchardstown and the notorious M.50.)
Bertie will still get his two toll fees though.Lets see...thats maybe four tolls (each way ) to get from Navan to Sandyford.!
No wonder property in Dublin is still soaring in price.

Related Link: http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org
author by Lizpublication date Tue May 17, 2005 20:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...there seems to be no evidence of human activity in Ireland from 20,000 years ago. If there were humans in Ireland before the last ice age, the glaciers destroyed the evidence. Therefore no sheep farmer crapped into his chamber pot 20,000 years ago as Dave above puts it so...succinctly. Maybe it's that little piece of misinformation which renders the rest of his comment invalid, just as other arguments for the M3 are invalid. Strange to say, some people actually enjoy walking across muddy fields in their wellies, and appreciate the subtle beauty of ancient monuments without them having been dollied up disney style, and while museums have their place, the first object of any self respecting archaeologist is to leave archaeological features and artifacts in situ; undisturbed and un dug up. It is a fact that the current road runs closer to the Hill of Tara than the proposed motorway will, but that's an unfortunate event that happened in what some people might say were less enlightened times. Also the proposed motorway is to go through the Tara Skreen valley, and saying that it's further from the Hill of Tara is meaningless as it is still going to go through an amazingly rich cultural and for many people spiritual landscape.
You are not always tripping up over archaeology in Ireland, contrary to popular belief. And you certainly don't come across such an intense concentration as you do at Tara-Skreen all over Ireland.

author by John McDermott - removefiannafailpublication date Sat May 21, 2005 02:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Would it not be wonderful ,if the struggle against this road was an inspiration ,-a bringing together of all irish men and women ,both here and abroad, in common cause..
of giving us back something more than our Fenian dead.
A flame of freedom, fighting the tyranny of a discredited political party.
Let us call on all our people wherever they be to join together and make common cause in this our finest hour.
Let us awake the dormant consciousness of a nation which has lost all value for what cannot be counted in material gain.
If they destroy Tara, these barbarians destroy our spiritual and cultural roots.
It is almost the last undespoiled landscape within the island of Ireland.
Already the vultures are circling with their land purchase options,and development plans.
If Tara falls all is lost, irrevocably.

Related Link: http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org
author by gutted in montrealpublication date Mon May 23, 2005 00:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i only wish this issue could unite the irish in ireland and in diaspora. unfortunately, having spent the last year and a half trying every means possible to alert the montreal irish community to the impending destruction of tara, and getting nothing in return but a series of (metaphoric) doors slammed in my face, i am losing hope that such a uniting of forces will ever occur. i've given the matter a lot of thought, trying to piece together exactly whose interests are being served by this decision, and have concluded that, despite alternate routes being a possibility, the route through tara has been stuck with all along precisely BECAUSE it will be plagued by interminable delays and escalating costs. this is going to make someone a lot of money, and that is the person handing out the brown paper envelopes to ensure that this goes ahead as planned (halliburton?). secondly, and perhaps even more disturbingly, this is clearly the precedent to end all precedents in terms of getting planning permission to destroy ancient historic and/or sacred sites. can we believe that any other monument, castle, stone circle or cottage will ever be protected in future once they've put a motorway through tara? this is the ultimate move of a government that cares about nothing but lining it's pockets with "development" euros. we may need a martyr for this cause - and i'm not talking about a two-week in prison for vandalising diggers martyr.

author by John McDermott - removefiannafailpublication date Tue May 24, 2005 22:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a pitting of unbridled arrogance against the consciousness of a minority.
It is difficult to imagine our people rising in strength against this catastrophe.
Who rose in 1916?
Those that did were condemned and berated by a majority of the ordinary people.
It takes so long ,and so much suffering ,to bring to bear the wrath of the busy citizens-of any nation.!

Related Link: http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org
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