Tuesday 22 May 2007

Protesters blockade M3 building site

Opponents of the M3 motorway in Co Meath stepped up their protest yesterday, blockading entrances to the construction site at Roestown, and preventing vehicles from moving in or out.
Gardaí were called in by contractors Siac Ferrovial after the blockade began at the construction compound, about one kilometre north of Dunshaughlin, at 6am yesterday.
However, gardaí did not remove the protesters and by late afternoon the demonstrators claimed a team on nine people had prevented access to five gates to the motorway site.
A spokesman for the protesters who are based at a vigil camp nearby contacted The Irish Times to say they were "sitting at the entrance to a huge compound at Roestown on the Dunsany to Dunshaughlin road.
"There are approximately 15 huge earth-moving machines blockaded into the compound and unable to work.
"The gardaí were on site this morning at 7.30 but haven't returned since."
The protesters also issued an appeal for others to join their protest. "We are appealing to all friends of Tara to come to the valley to stand and be counted as the National Roads Authority are trying to keep the destruction of our ancestral home quiet until after Thursday."
They also said they had remained in the entrance but alterations to the boundary fence by the contractor had left them fenced in.
By 5pm the protesters had contacted gardaí themselves to complain about this.
The remains of a large enclosure were discovered at Roestown by archaeologists working for the National Roads Authority.
The complex, known as Roestown 2, was already bisected by the existing N3 and sits at a point where the M3 will cross the N3 for the first time heading out from Dublin.
The archaeologists determined that Roestown 2 was likely to be an early medieval settlement.
A spokeswoman for Siac Ferrovial said five people "blocked a few of the site entrances to prevent plant and machinery entering and exiting a small section of the site".
She added that gardaí were called "as it is the responsibility of the company to protect the health and safety of its workers and the public on its site".
The spokeswoman added that "work is continuing as normal on the rest of the 60km scheme".
The protest took place as a number of academics met at Trinity College Dublin in opposition to the road.
The conference resulted in a unanimous call for Opposition leader Enda Kenny to address the Hill of Tara/M3 motorway issue.
The conference was hosted by the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Speakers included Dr Sean Duffy of the department of medieval history; Dr Gerald Morgan of the department of English; Vincent Salafia and Independent Meath County Councillor Phil Cantwell.
Tim O'Brien
© 2007 The Irish Times

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