A SENIOR state archaeologist has said fears about the impact of the controversial M3 motorway on the Hill of Tara had been misplaced.
The National Roads Authority's (NRA's) Mary Deevy said she believed the proposed road would not impact on the Tara landscape in Co Meath.
She also said the road was further from the ancient site than the existing carriageway. Ms Deevy was speaking as she gave journalists a guided tour of the archaeological excavations at the newly discovered national monument at Lismullen, near the Tara monument, which she agreed should be preserved by record.
This comes as environmentalists plan to take to the streets of Dublin tomorrow for a 'Love Tara' march, before presenting the Government with a petition demanding the road be re-routed.
"I think Tara is a very special place, but I think some people have overestimated the impact (of the motorway)," Ms Deevy said.
"There is no way to change their minds until the project is finished and they can see for themselves."
Ms Deevy reiterated the State's position that the motorway would not impact on the Tara monument and would be further from the ancient site than the existing road.
She added some fears about the future development of the Tara area were legitimate, but said a landscape conservation scheme was being considered by Meath County Council which had been included in the current county development plan.
This would restrict the construction of large-scale housing developments and retail outlets.
Around 30 archaeologists are working on the preservation by record of the Lismullen site, which contains artefacts from the Iron Age dating back several hundred years before the birth of Christ. It was granted National Monument status earlier this year.
In one of his final acts of office, former environment minister Dick Roche controversially signed an order of preservation by record for Lismullen, meaning the prehistoric henge would be photographed, sketched and measured before the site is razed to make way for the motorway.