Friday, 28 December 2007

Expert claims road authority ignored advice on Tara

AN EXPERT in charge of ensuring a national monument, discovered on the route of the controversial M3 motorway was properly excavated, has launched a blistering attack on the State and its agents.

Dr Conor Newman, who stepped aside from the advisory committee on November 20 last, accused the Government of ignoring expert advice about the significance of a 2,500-year-old monument found at Lismullin in Co Meath.

And he said the road builders, the National Roads Authority, had "wrecked" the monument, which will be covered by a road in the coming weeks.

He said the NRA had ignored expert advice that anything discovered in the Tara Skryne Valley was associated with the Hill of Tara, widely acknowledged since early last century.

Earlier this year, a pagan ritual site was discovered along the route, and former environment minister Dick Roche ordered that the road be built over it following its excavation.

"I went up to give some advice on the monument. I wasn't going to play politics, but I felt I could stay on the committee to advise on the excavation," Dr Newman said.

"When it got to the point where the excavation was nearing completion, I felt it was time to go.

"In spite of all the advice, they still forged ahead. We had a ridiculous situation of no willingness to adjust the road even slightly. The casualty has been the truth, and the objective assessment of the truth."

Environment Minister John Gormley said last night he was "sad" to hear of the decision, but it was something he "understood fully".

"I was conscious in asking him to serve on the committee that I was potentially putting him in an uncomfortable position because of his long-standing principled opposition to the road proposal," the minister said.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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