Tuesday, 16 January 2007

M3 protect continues

Paul Melia of the Irish Independent gives another view:

IT's probably 1,500 years old, and it has survived Viking raids and the ravages of time, but in just a few years it will be buried under tonnes of concrete.
Archaeologists excavating the route of the M3 motorway from Dublin to Navan have unearthed a 6th century souterrain, or underground passage, in near-perfect condition at Roestown, Co Meath.
The souterrain, which was used to store food and valuables and as a place of refuge, will not be preserved for future generations and as a tourist site.
Instead its location and condition will be recorded before it is capped and the motorway built over it.
It is just one of dozens of sites of archaeological interest in the Tara Skryne valley - where Ireland's High Kings were based, according to tradition - that will be treated similarly, to allow construction of the road.
Since last June, a group of protesters has camped on the Hill of Tara in an attempt to save the Valley of the Kings from being bisected by the road.
While hard-pressed commuters want the new road, those against it question why the motorway has to be built through the middle of the country's most important archaeological site.
The National Museum has also expressed concerns about the routing of the motorway.
Since June 21, a fire has continuously burned at the Tara Solidarity camp, tended by the thousands of protesters who have made the trip in an attempt to stop the motorway from going ahead.
The protesters include conservationists, local people and archaeologists, united in their intention to make the road an election issue and have the motorway rerouted.
"We're hoping to get it to the top of the agenda locally and nationally," Michael Canney said yesterday. "We're getting a fund together, and there will be a lot of political work done in the next three months. The protests will continue right throughout the election."
Heather Buchanan, the Navan-based chairwoman of the Save Tara Skryne Valley campaign, said "One of our concerns is that the National Roads Authority is employing archaeologists who only have a year to do their work."
One of the protesters, Debbie Reilly from Navan, said yesterday: "I'm an artist and I've camped on the hill since I was a child. I'd draw on the riverbank, and for me this is the source of my inspiration. This road will be so intrusive, there will be a rift in the valley.
"In Navan, there's a tradition to get a car on your 18th birthday because the buses are so poor. It's not difficult to see this road will not solve the commuter problems."

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