The 6th World Archaeological Congress (WAC), Tara and the M3
history and heritage |
Sunday June 29, 2008 23:01 by Maggie Ronayne, Archaeology Dept, NUI Galway & GWS Ireland - Global Women's Strike, Ireland Ireland at globalwomenstrike dot net 087 7838688
The privatisation of Irish archaeology and corruption on the road schemes
How the issue of a discussion at WAC 6 on Tara and the M3 arose and an update on the situation.
The issue of a debate on Tara and the M3 at the World Archaeological Congress, which takes place next week in Dublin, arose after Tara campaigners requested that I investigate whether such a discussion could be facilitated at one of the sessions dealing with ethics. I wrote to WAC asking for a session on campaigns against cultural destruction as a counterbalance to the programme as it was, which included several pro-developer, pro-private sector archaeology themes as well as the shocking presence at the congress of the US military.
Related Links: World Archaeological Congress Tara stories on indy
I requested that in the tradition of WAC, such a session be open to all involved in fighting cultural destruction and suggested a fee waiver for campaigners due to the prohibitive costs of attending.
WAC replied agreeing to include public discussion on the case of Tara and the M3 during the debate in the ethics forum on Thursday 3rd July. Tara was to be one of two cases examined in detail by participants in this forum.
WAC suggested I contact one of the co-organisers of the forum if I wished to be involved myself. I replied repeating my concern that any campaigners could participate if they so wished. I reiterated my request for a fee waiver and also asked, following a request from Tara campaigners, about a crèche so that those who are normally excluded, like campaigners who are the mothers of young children, could participate. There was no response.
Later I wrote to the session organizer to whom WAC had referred me, and received an email which included the following:
‘…the format of the session is not a debate, nor is it even going to be specifically about the cases that the ethics forum participants studied in preparation. We've revised the format of the forum in response to dialogues with stakeholders, members of the WAC Executive and the WAC Committee on Ethics, as well as in relation to what information would be most beneficial to WAC. With that in mind, our forum will be a panel presentation/discussion of recommendations to give to WAC on considering ethical cases in general, so that future cases can be avoided/prevented/considered in constructive/non-painful ways.
Our forum participants did study two real cases studies in preparation for this, but the public panel will be process-oriented and future-focused… in shifting the public panel format off of the specific cases, we hope to maintain our focus on this process, minimize further pain for stakeholders, and also avoid our participants and the forum itself from being pigeonholed politically as "for" or "against" a particular issue…’
Following subsequent confusion on whether there would still be a discussion on Tara at this forum, my department sought clarification from this session organizer and was told in a second email that:
‘…We will not be detailing the specifics of either case we studied. As I've attempted to explain in both emails (to you and Vincent [Salafia]), our process-driven and future-oriented recommendations are *informed by* the case studies our participants have been studying, but the public forum will not be focused or commenting *directly* on those… specific stakeholders were contacted by us earlier to submit to the participants position statements that would be taken into consideration along with the published material on the case studies we chose… there was (and still is) a process in place for which we were gathering direct statements from interested parties - that's just not the focus of our public forum (we have never wanted the forum to be a soapbox for any side of any of the issues)…’
She added that the ‘stakeholders’ selected by WAC for this pre-congress study and who submitted documentation included the NRA. We understand that UCD is now telling journalists there will be discussion of Tara in some sessions though there’s no information on the format or level of participation. So we don’t know if there will be substantive discussion– it’s anyone’s guess.
Whatever the case may be, most of those who have spent years trying to oppose destruction at Tara will not be able to participate. WAC chose which grouping in the movement it wanted to participate and by means of this action, the prohibitively expensive entry fee and emails such as those above, WAC appear to have effectively closed the discussion down. said to other campaigners, to archaeologists opposed to the motorway or whose field, like in my own case, is professional ethics and active opposition to cultural destruction: you can’t speak. The campaigner they have chosen to participate in the debate credited WAC for organising a Tara/M3 discussion rather than those who insisted on such a discussion.
Meanwhile the article published in the academic journal Public Archaeology to coincide with the World Archaeological Congress in Dublin is circulating. It discusses the privatization of archaeology, corrupt development and the movement against it, looking at the case of Tara and the M3 in particular. It can be found at the link below.
As it says at the end of the article, 'if privatized archaeology in the service of corrupt development is adopted as the model globally, it will be used in the Third World to cause the deaths of millions of people in wars and US-backed ‘democracy and development’ projects... Already there is an attempt to use WAC to approve a global, privatised archaeology modelled on recent development in Ireland.'
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When it comes to reading scary things about what is going on at Tara I thought we had seen the worst -but this is the worst yet!!! Thank gawd there are people like you and Jo Ronayne who are brave enough to expose this scandal. Many of us felt all along that what is happening at Tara has global significance and now the true horror of it is just beginning to be realised. I am in shock. Bless you.
WAC, not to be confused with We Are Change.
WAC 6 represents the last chance saloon for those who have opposed the route of the M3 through the landscape of Tara. WAC is quite a leftie construct; the only global organisation representing archaeologists, its members have been fashioning a code of ethics for the profession for many years. That archaeologists should require a code of ethics may come as a surprise to some, but survival in the present crisis of capital is getting a bit more difficult and sometimes corners have to be cut.
Participation on the WAC mailing list is global and open to all (although there are few enough posts from the DPRC and central Africa). Participation at a higher level appears to be relatively democratic, something along the lines of a dictatorship of the doers, with doubtless a few junior academics with ambitions hanging around. English and Spanish are the main languages used.
WAC is a good thing. It's an emerging ethical voice in a profession that's changed beyond recognition in the 40 odd years I've been involved in it.
It seems that a public meeting of WAC's ethics committee was being organised, with the Tara controversy a central point of discussion. Stakeholders were consulted and some bright spark had the idea to invite TaraWatch to the party.
This had the potential to turn into an entertaining, though perfectly pointless exercise in auld bleather, with besuited NRA officials on one side (have you heard the American NRA spinner on the wireless talking about the toll-free M50? I digress...) and Salafia's beragged coterie on the other,roaring at one another in front of an audience of the great and the good.
You couldn't make it up, unless you were perhaps too cynical for your own good. Then you might just realise that Salafia and co are being brought along to demonstrate to the assembled internationals what a bunch of lulas they are, those roads protesters.
Archaeologists for their part should have been in the game sooner. They should have recognised the idiocy of constructing a motorways with a beautiful circular car park, elevated over the canal, the railway and the M50 at one end, and a DoENI field track at the other.
Campaigners never recognised the more fundamental political issues at stake, stuff like ecology and global warming sure, but additionally sustainability and lack of a fast rail connection from Kells into Dublin. And what about the workers? What about their quality of life?
The academics though, have had a good war. Led by Newman and Fenwick in UCG they suffered from a bad attack, but played consistently well throughout. Newman's essay 'Misinformation, disinformation and downright distortion: the Battle to Save Tara 1999-2005' inUninhabited Ireland, (Galway 2007) is an obvious starting point or anyone wanting to understand both the planning context and the archaeological issues at play.
Hopefully enough of the participants will make a bit of noise and at least get some clarification on what would appear to be, as they say at home in Lanark , a pulled session.
Otherwise, the WAC programme appears quite interesting. You won't be going of course unless you're an archaeologist or a rich digger-licker, but quite a few of the papers to be presented are available on line.
There's free booze of course, if you know where to look. We'll be footerin around the Congress and reporting political developments as they happen on Indymedia.
Might there be any point in trying to raise the SHOCKING situation relating to the completely avoidable type of heritage site destruction outlined at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/83306 I wonder?
An effort has already been made to point out the difficulty in question to Prime Minister Brian Cowen TD, in a section of a letter to him sent through the registered post on May 9th 2008, the text of which can be viewed at http://www.humanrightsireland.com/PrimeMinisterCowen/9M...l.htm
As can be seen at the above address, the e-mail version of the letter in question was copied to President George W. Bush (receipt of which was acknowledged by the Whitehuse).
Also, was it just a coincidence I wonder, or some kind of VERY sick joke in VERY poor taste, that July 4th happens to be the day on which the United States of America celebrates its Independence Day?
The Capel Building
Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
30 June 2008
Dear Minister Gormley,
I am writing to you, to inform you of what I believe to be a material change in circumstances, in relation to the Hill of Tara and M3 motorway.
Yesterday, an article and an editorial that appeared in yesterday's Irish mail on Sunday, which quotes a published academic paper by Maggie Ronayne, Department of Archaeology, NUI Galway: 'The State We Are in on the Eve of World Archaeological Congress (WAC) 6: Archaeology in Ireland vs Corporate Takeover' in Public Archaeology, Vol. 7, No. 2, Summer 2008, 114-129.
The article quotes Ro Ronayne, a former contract archaeologist for the National Roads Authority (NRA), who held a number of archaeological licences for test-trenching sites along the M3 motorway. In the paper, she claims that she, and a number of other licence-holders, were forced to change findings in reports, and also had reports changed without their permission, by the NRA. These reports were in turn presented to the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, who relied upon them in making his decision on whether or not to grant full excavation licenses, on sites which I alleged were national monuments.
As you are aware, I took a High Court action, to judicially review the Minister's directions of May 2005, which ordered the excavation and demolition of 38 archaeological sites between Navan and Dunshaughlin. The action was taken against the Minister for the Environment, Meath County Council, and the Attorney General, and not the NRA. However, the NRA immediately filed a motion to be considered a notice party, and were added to the action by Justice Smyth. They then immediately began an intensive cause of action, which involved a high volume of correspondence, motions, and expert affidavits. Justice Smyth ruled against me, saying that there were no national monuments present, and I was liable for approximately 600,000 euros in costs to the Government, and also was liable for my own costs, which were in the hundreds of thousands. I was forced to withdraw my Supreme Court appeal, due to my inability to pay these exorbitant costs. It now appears that the NRA evidence was fabricated, and that there were indeed national monuments present.
Currently, I am taking legal advice, but I wanted to write to you immediately, and call on you to review the matter, and take prompt and decisive action, in regards to the above claims by Ms Ronayne. The second leg of my argument in the High Court was that there is one single greater Tara national monument, which the motorway traverses. This claim was also rejected by the Judge, in large part due to the NRA evidence. While the 38 sites have disappeared, the motorway is still a long way from the completion date of 2010, so this is still very much a live issue. I still maintain that the M3 is passing through the middle of the Tara national monument. The area of that monument is equivalent to the area that you are proposing should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have written to UNESCO and informed them that we believe it would be a breach of the World Heritage Convention for them to inscribe Tara, without requiring a re-routing of the M3.
Assuming the claims by Ms Ronayne are true, and I find no reason to doubt that, the core responsibility for dealing with those claims, rests on your shoulders. One of the other claims I made in my case was that there is a constitutional imperative for the Minister for the Environment to protect the national heritage. That duty has been affirmed by the Supreme Court, in the Dunne case, over Carrickmines Castle, and does exist. It imposes a positive duty on you to act in the best interests of preservation.
When you took office, you stated that you had received advice from the Attorney General, that you could not undo any of the previous orders of the former Minister, Dick Roche, concerning Tara, unless there was “a material change in circumstances”. I believe the revelations by Jo Ronayne, combined with the observations of Maggie Ronayne, constitute such a material change in circumstances, which not only provides you with an opportunity, but imposes upon you a duty, to act in a positive manner and take whatever measures necessary to protect the entire Hill of Tara landscape and archaeological complex.
In my opinion, your constitutional imperative is to immediately place a Temporary Preservation Order on the entire Hill of Tara archaeological complex, and to undertake a public enquiry into exactly what has transpired, with regards to the archaeological assessments used to justify the current route. While I may have legal remedies available to me, it should not be left to private citizens to protect sites such as Tara, by risking life and limb entering the Courts. Protecting Tara is your primary responsibility, and this change in circumstances offers you an opportunity to use your ministerial powers to the fullest.
[Please write your own letter to the Minister, at email@example.com]
See also: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/tara-campaigner....html
Irish Mail on Sunday articles: http://www.tarawatch.org/?p=720
We have been contacted again by WAC.
They are setting up a new panel discussion on the M3, to be held this Thursday. We have been invited to make a 10 minute statement, and participate in the panel.
We were also informed that WAC would be interested in passing a resolution, in the plenary session on Friday, regarding the future of the Tara complex.
We will begin wording the 10 minute statement, and a proposed resolution. Input welcome from all quarters.
Please join discussions at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hilloftara/ to have your say
PDF Document by Jo Ronayne. NB Pages 8 and 10 of this document which are of particular interest.
In his letter to the Minister, Vincent claims that Ms. Ronayne and others were forced to change their interpretations of the testing reports, and that this represents a material change in circumstances. What a crock. Has he taken the time to read those reports in relation to what was eventually uncovered in the excavations? How different were the interpretations? This is what the people should be asking.
As a prominent archaeologist myself, and someone who excavated sites along the M3 route, I fully support the 'outing' of those who have potentially brought our profession into disrepute, and hope that the truth will eventually out.
I feel I must point out, in the name of clarity if nothing else, that Ms. Ronayne had nothing to do with the testing of the Clonee - Navan sections of the route. Also, I would like to point out that the testing reports given to me in advance of my excavations were fully representative of the features noted, the test excavations were visible, and the interpretation of the testing correlated with the archaeology. It must be understood that testing is at best like keyhole surgery. You're only seeing a small percentage of what is there, and it is possible to get it wrong.
Has anyone considered the possibility that some of the interpretations by the testing archaeologists on contracts 4 & 5 may have been off, and needed to be rethought? No, of course not.
- You could work in McDonalds for all I know, so how seriously do you expect to be taken. Stand up for yourself, for a change. If you are a 'prominent Irish arcaheologist', and you are right, what do you have to hide?
- Also, it might be a good idea for YOU to reread the paper , and you will see that the claims you attribute to Vincent are actually claims made by one of your fellow archaeologists. Maggie's paper is at: http://www.mediafire.com/?y29fbxwtnbx
- You say "In his letter to the Minister, Vincent claims that Ms. Ronayne and others were forced to change their interpretations of the testing reports, and that this represents a material change in circumstances. What a crock. Has he taken the time to read those reports in relation to what was eventually uncovered in the excavations? How different were the interpretations? This is what the people should be asking."
This is the quopte from Jo Ronayne in Maggie's paper:
EXCERPT FROM MAGGIE RONAYNE PAPER, QUOTING JO RONAYNE:
“Jo Ronayne directed M3 test trenches for IAC Ltd (Irish Archaeological Consultancy, one of the archaeology companies contracted to work on the M3). She says:
I should have said no when asked to direct on it but I didn’t have the experience to realize that the testing and my reports would be used to facilitate rather than stop the project going ahead. Or that they don’t let you write the truth in the reports or give you enough time to do a proper job. I suppose I thought I and others could make a difference by showing the wealth of what was there, that it might stop the motorway. After a while I realized that the NRA would not let this happen. I was the director, I held the license and was responsible for the work, but the NRA archaeologist would come down and tell me what I should be doing. And directors or field archaeologists working on the sites were not allowed to attend meetings where decisions were made by the National Roads Authority’s own archaeologists about how to interpret and present what WE were finding.
A number of times I was told to change an interpretation which served to lessen the potential or numbers of sites. We were also told to excavate large sections into one type of site [fulachta fiadh or Bronze Age mounds] even though you are not supposed to excavate in the testing phase. They edited our reports before the minister saw them. (Interview, 2006)
[From page 122 of 'The State We Are in on the Eve of World Archaeological Congress (WAC) 6: Archaeology in Ireland vs Corporate Takeover' in Public Archaeology, Vol. 7, No. 2, Summer 2008, 114-129 by Maggie Ronayne, Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway]
- So, the statements attributed to him are actually from someone who worked on the reports. That person said that she and other archaeologists (a) were forced to change contents of reports, AND (b) that she and others had their reports changed AFTER they submitted them. So, the point here is nobody can rely on those reports, because they are not written by the people who did the real interpretations.
- Assuming what Jo and Maggie say is true (they are after all willing to put their names to the allegations, unlike you) - then this IS a material change in circumstances. It changes everything.
- We have all heard the stories about Irish arcaheologists, getting rich off roads. Car boots full of whiskey, and a nod and wink. Helicopters. Treating and paying your works like slaves. Gag orders. Leaving one site and going to another, knowing the site you left will be wrecked, but you weren't there, so oh well. You are defending the indefinsible, and the world is watching. Come out from behind your facade and then people might take you seriously.
"Has anyone considered the possibility that some of the interpretations by the testing archaeologists on contracts
4 & 5 may have been off, and needed to be rethought? No, of course not."
In what context may their interpretations have been off? What parameters framed the 're-thinking'? Were perhaps their interpretations 'off', because they were discordant with the official view, which sought to use one route only, and didn't even scan or submit EIA or EIS or even fieldwalk any other routes, and refused to see the Tara landscape as an intrinsic landscape in it's own right, as a national monument, against the views of the foremost experts in the World on the Tara landscape? (e.g The experts on Tara, Joe Fenwick, Conor Newman and Edel Bhreathnach said in their position paper of 2004: The proposed motorway ignores and transgresses this line and will, therefore, destroy the spatial and visual integrity of the archaeological and historical landscape of Tara, as well as removing from it key component monuments.) www.nuigalway.ie/archaeology/Tara_M3.html
It is a slur on the professional competence of the testing archaeologists and site directors, and the bodies who awarded their qualifications, to say that their interpretations were 'off', and needed to be 're-thought. I'm sure many of these archaeologists were equally or more qualified and experienced than those who did the 're-thinking'.
Another point to add is that the censorship continued (and is still continuing!) right through subsequent phases of the construction of the M3. I cite the example of the burials at Collierstown, where the NRA consistently claimed on their official site that there were two graves, whereas, in fact, there was over 80! The NRA eventually recapitulated under pressure from Kathy Sinnot MEP.
This is just one example of many...
Seandála makes an excellent point here regarding Contracts 4 and 5, subtleties lost on most of the internationals attending WAC, I'd have thought. More's the pity.
This reporter was unable to obtain information as to the make up of the panel reported above by TaraWatch. Will this discussion be of any use? Who knows... Hopefully a more considered voice than TaraWatch will protest at the cultural vandalism which is being presided over by a Green Party. On yer bikes.
John Gormrley wasn't on his tonight. Nice big black car... a few Branch around the place looking stupid. In fact the RHK was quite heavily guarded by cops tonight. Some of the internationals were a bit intimidated, not those though who gave papers on the archaeology of fascist repression in South America and community archaeoology projects in Western Australia.
The M3 issue has more to it than a problem of archaeological ethics and participation. Archaeologists are the fall guys, they haven't been smart enough the recognise the real agendas at play here (I blame the Jesuits personally, the educators of most of the male archaeologists I'd know).
Having said that, there was a good buzz today around WAC. And strangley enough, I don't reckon there have been as many leftie activists gathered together in Dublin since May '04.
Maney, who publish Public Archaeology had a book stall and were offering the latest edition with Maggie's piece as a free sample copy of the journal. This reporter engaged with several internationals on the Tara issue, however, the specific arguement was countered with reports of the good work the NRA do. Fair enough. The NRA has a big presence at WAC, celebrating the great discoveries made along the roads. It doesn't happen anywhere else.
Those opposed to the M3 must try harder.
1 July 2008
'World Archaeological Congress Adds New Tara / M3 Special Session on Thur 3 July at UCD'
The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) have made a last-minute addition to their week long program of events taking place at UCD. Yesterday, Julie Hollowell, Co-Chair of the WAC Committee on Ethics, invited TaraWatch to participate in a special session on Tara and the M3 motorway, on Thursday July 3 from 2 to 3:30 pm in Theatre L of the Newman Building on the UCD Belfield campus.
Julie Hollowell wrote in her invitation yesterday:
"The WAC Council would like to invite you to participate as a member of a panel discussion on Tara.
"We apologize for the short notice in organizing this event, which we see as a way to educate those of us who have come together for the Congress about this important regional issue.
"The panel will consist of 10-minute presentations by representatives of a range of stakeholders, followed by a question and answer session with the audience, is an opportunity for participants at WAC6 to learn more about issues surrounding the future of the site of Tara and its landscape.
"The situation with the landscape of Tara has many parallels in other parts of the world. With over 70 countries represented at WAC6 in Dublin, the Congress is interested in discussing and learning about the impact of roads and development on archaeological sites worldwide and the implications this has for the practice and ethics of archaeologists and for members of local communities.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd July, a group of the world's leading archaeologists will embark on a field trip to the Hill of Tara, to view the situation there. The following is found on the WAC Web site:
"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."
The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is the only representative, fully international organization of practicing archaeologists. Founded in 1986, WAC encourages open dialogue among all people genuinely concerned about the past, including scholars from under-represented parts of the world, First Nations people, and descendent communities whose pasts are told by archaeologists. One of WAC’s primary functions is to hold an international congress every four to five years to offer discussion of new archaeological research as well as archaeological policy, practice and politics. Previous congresses were held in the United States, South Africa, India, Venezuela and England.
Ms Hollowell also stated that WAC intends to adopt a resolution "on the future of the Tara landscape" at its plenary session on Friday.
Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said:
"We will make a presentation, asking them to adopt the petition that has been addressed to WAC-6 and UNESCO, which calls on UNESCO to insist that the M3 motorway is re-routed, before they agree to Minister Gormley's proposal to make it a World Heritage Site.
"The futures of Tara, and the M3, are both still very uncertain, in light of new allegations that NRA reports were fabricated and altered.
"We are hoping for a clear and unambiguous statement from the worlds experts, as to what the future of Tara should be."
For WAC information on submission of papers and scientific programme, please contact:
Gabriel Cooney, Academic Secretary, WAC-6, UCD School of Archaeology, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 716 8163 Fax: +353 1 716 1184 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Sign the new Save Tara UNESCO petition
News I have from Maggie Ronayne is that the panel members invited to participate are:
Donal Murphy (ACS),
Brian Duffy (Head archaeologist in dept of Enviro) ,
R.O'Flionn (Nat Museum),
Ronan Swann (Who has asked to split his time with Mary Deevy - both NRA),
Dr. Conor Newman (who can't attend because he has prior engagements made after he wasn't invited to WAC),
Muireann Ní Bhrolchain (who is out of the country at the moment, for similar reasons), and
Maggie has been invited to attend, and has been told she can contribute from the floor.
Maggie asked about allowing other campaigners to attend, with a waiver for those who can't afford the fees, and was again refused.
So, Anti M3 archaeologists and cultural conservationists either have to storm the lecture theatre or use devious means to attend. Maggie intends to keep up the pressure and ask that representatives of other anti-M3 groups, and other campaigns against cultural destruction both in Ireland and internationally, be allowed to ttend this panel.
Also, Maggie was told that WAC would not be making a decision either way on the Tara issue. This is not what Vincent was told...is this an attempt to divide the opposition.
I would just also like to say that members of other anti-M3 groups have experienced tremendous difficulty in contacting, and registering,for this Congress. Not only that, the shocking lack of provision of creche facilities has effectively excluded many women from attending. This, coupled with the expensive fees, has excluded and discriminated one of the most disadvantaged groups in Ireland, the single parents. This is contradictory to WAC's founding ethics. There certainly has been a clampdown on this Congress...Only in Ireland.....?
It is certainly true that there are much bigger games being played out here. I found, when studying for my degrees in archaeology, that
quite a lot of archaeologists didn't want to look at the bigger political issues and corporate agandas affecting archaeology. Not only that, a certain few actively resisted any discussion of or education about these issues. So now the Irish archaeological sector is increasingly driven by commercial interests, exactly as Maggies excellent paper outlines.
I will say this - I found that the international archaeological community is a lot more 'savvy', aware and questioning...
Again, only in Ireland, an Bananaphobhlaicht...
Invite to Archaeologists to visit endangered Sousterrain ME 032 021 at Lismullin on behalf of those who have been protecting it for so long. If you are doing a tour of Tara you might as well see some of what is REALLY happening. See link
Despite the high entry fee and lack of crèche, individual sessions have been easy enough to access over the past two days for non-participants. With over 1700 in attendance, it's easy enough to wander around the place and pretend you're an archaeologist (something that perhaps a sizeable proportion of the 'profession' in this country is quite proficient at).
There appears to be quite an amount of support among the international participants for Ms. Ronayne's position, where better-informed Irish colleagues would argue that it's too over the top, needlessly personal in tone and possibly libellous. While there may be more than an element of truth to this, everyone loves a good ruck and I believe the lecture theatre will be packed.
Irish archaeologists tend to be less reflective on class issues than their English colleagues. This is possibly a function of the fact that the generation that are now at the coal face, both on the road schemes and, god help us, in the universities are of an age where going to college was an expensive business and studying something as esoteric as archaeology was considered somewhat eccentric, a very middle class experience overall. It is not terribly surprising therefore that Ms. Ronayne's paper, which takes a swipe at UCD, the profession in general and everyone's cosy relationship with that unelected, cash-rich destroyer of our cultural patrimony, the NRA, is not well appreciated.
Elsewhere in WAC, a threatened protest by anti-war campaigners against the presence of US military at a session on war and antiquities didn't take place. The debate itself was unfortunately quite anodyne, with one of the seemingly several plain clothes cops in the audience nodding off to sleep every few minutes. Indeed, I nearly joined him.
Louis le Brocquy
For the purpose of trying to ensure our heritage sites are better protected in future, an attempt was made earlier today to bring the "Horror Story of Baronstown" DIRECTLY to the attention of Ms Claire Smith, who is the present President of the World Archaeological Congress, and who is also an Associate Professor of Archaeological at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.
The text of the e-mail used, which was copied to a number of other people -- including Nelson Mandela, who is a patron of the World Archaeological Congress -- can be viewed at the following location: http://www.humanrightsireland.com/WorldArchaeologicalCo...l.htm
I am listed above as one invited to speak at WAC.
I received no such invitation.
I could not attend if I had and I think it insulting to invite people to speak at the last minute to be honest.