Monday 13 August 2007

Tara group vows legal action over controversial burial site dig

LEGAL action will be taken within a week to stop the excavation of a national monument site on the route of the controversial M3 motorway unless the Government orders all work to stop.

The TaraWatch campaign said that unless Environment Minister John Gormley stopped excavations by next Tuesday it would seek a High Court injunction on the basis that the works were illegal and contrary to EU law.

There were peaceful protests at the site of Lismullin national monument yesterday as archaeologists began excavating the ritual burial site discovered last May.

A decision to preserve the site 'by record' - meaning it will be destroyed to make way for the road - has been criticised by demonstrators who want the motorway re-routed away from the Hill of Tara.

Opponents blocked archaeologists and construction workers from entering the site. However, following the arrival of gardai the protestors ended their standoff.

Mr Gormley has appointed an expert committee to oversee the excavation works. He has repeatedly said he does not have the power to re-route the road or to leave the national monument at its current location. His predecessor, Dick Roche, ordered that the Lismullin monument be studied and destroyed to allow the motorway be constructed.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley said yesterday that unless there was a material change in circumstances, he was powerless to alter Mr Roche's decision.

However, TaraWatch maintains otherwise, adding that the EU Commission has warned that demolition of the national monument is contrary to EU law.

The EU claims the National Monuments Act, which allows the Environment Minister to decide if a national monument should be preserved or destroyed, is contrary to EU law.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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