Campaigners at Tara are preparing a fresh legal challenge and possible "direct action" protests if the Minister for the Environment directs that construction of the M3 motorway at an archaeologically significant "henge" at Lismullen should proceed.
Outlining details of a submission which it handed in to Dick Roche yesterday, spokesman for TaraWatch Vincent Salafia said the Minister had rerouted the N25 at a similar site at Woodstown in Waterford in 2005.
As a result, Mr Salafia said, he wanted to know why Mr Roche could not pursue a similar course of action in relation to the M3 and Tara.
Colleague Siobhán Rice said protesters were prepared to engage in direct action to halt work on the site "if we have to", but stressed that she hoped it would not come to that.
Mr Salafia said the organisation sympathised with the people of Meath and had in fact adopted a "compromise" position in advocating a rerouting of the proposed motorway, rather than a decision to abandon the proposed motorway altogether.
TaraWatch wishes to see a formal mediation process introduced which would allow all interested parties to be consulted and would help to avoid lengthy court battles and unnecessary delays to the project.
"I can almost guarantee that if he does give the go-ahead, there will be a legal challenge," Mr Salafia said. "We would be racing [ against] the clock to get our application in there."
He added that TaraWatch was "simply calling for responsible road building". The discovery of the Lismullen site represented prima facie evidence that the process for constructing the M3 had failed, he added.
Mr Roche consulted Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum, after the National Monuments Service inspected the Lismullen site and officials are considering his report.
© 2007 The Irish Times