PROTESTERS hoping to save the Hill of Tara from the M3 motorway have rejected claims by the Environment Minister that he is powerless to change the route.
TaraWatch has argued that although John Gormley says he cannot step into the fray, the Green minister could declare the Lismullen site a national monument and then enact a section of the National Monuments Act.
This would give directions for its preservation "in situ" and the controversial roadway would have to be rerouted.
After taking independent legal advice on the issue, campaigners say the new minister is "understating and downplaying his options". They also pointed out that An Bord Pleanala can order a new environment impact statement if the decision results in a "material" change to the project.
"The European Commission has now indicated that the decision to demolish a national monument is a material change to the scheme, which necessitates a new Environmental Impact Statement for this section," said a member of the group, Vincent Salafia.
In one of his final acts of office, former environment minister Dick Roche controversially signed an order of preservation by record for Lismullen. This means the prehistoric henge is to be photographed, sketched and measured before the site is razed to make way for the motorway.
* Four men involved in the Save Tara protest who spent a week in jail after refusing to give a commitment to stay away from the M3 site yesterday walked from Navan District Court after agreeing to bail conditions.