Tuesday 15 July 2008

Top archaeologists urge protection of iconic Tara

THE World Archaeological Congress (WAC) has urged the Government to ensure that no large commercial or residential development is allowed along the route of the controversial M3 motorway.

And the forum, made up of practising archaeologists, has said that excavations carried out along the motorway route in Co Meath -- which runs near the hill of Tara -- were performed to the "highest professional standards".

Last week it was claimed that archaeologists were told to alter their reports to minimise the importance of ancient sites found during excavations, a claim denied by the National Roads Authority (NRA). Yesterday the WAC said it would carry out a report to "sift out" any "misinformation" in relation to the controversial road project.

In a statement issued yesterday, following a week-long gathering at UCD, the organisation said it was opposed to any further development along the stretch of motorway in the Tara/Skryne Valley, and called on the Government to develop protection measures for the site.

"Tara has significance far beyond Ireland itself," President of the WAC, Professor Claire Smith said.

"Its iconic significance derives from its unique cultural character . . . The WAC strongly encourages the Irish Government to instigate formal protection measures for this area and to consider nominating Tara for inscription as a World Heritage Site.

"Prior to the holding of the sixth World Archaeological Congress we sent two senior representatives to look at the issue of the motorway.

"They found that all the archaeological work has been done to the highest professional standards."

A stakeholders' meeting held to discuss the motorway heard "competing and often contradictory claims", and the WAC had decided to commission a report on the Tara discussions so that lessons could be learned.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent


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