Friday 30 January 2009

Tara proposed as Unesco world heritage site

The Hill of Tara is among a number of sites which have been nominated for inclusion on the country's list of possible United Nation world heritage sites.

Campaigners against the route of the M3 motorway in Co Meath have joined with heritage groups in submitting proposals to an advisory group set up by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley, to review the list of Irish sites.

The existing tentative nomination list for world heritage sites dates back to 1992 and includes Killarney National Park, the Burren and Clonmacnoise.

Deadlines for submissions for inclusion on the revised list close today.

Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said: "We have nominated Tara to be a World Heritage Site, but only on
condition that the M3 motorway is re-routed first."

"It would be a breach of the World Heritage Convention for Unesco to approve Tara, with the M3 going through the site," he said.

Tarawatch and the Campaign to Save Tara have said the Hill of Tara complex qualifies for World Heritage status as a natural and cultural landscape of outstanding universal value, due to its unique cultural significance, and the extent of the surviving remains.

Campaigners believe that if they can have the site designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) site, then changes would have to be made to the route of the controversial motorway, which runs close to the Hill.

“We’d love it if the whole area was chosen to be a world heritage site but because of the destruction that has been caused by the work on the M3, there is a worry that it might be refused," said Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolchain of the Campaign to Save Tara group.

Minister Gormley has previously said he supported the plan to have the Hill of Tara considered as a world heritage site as a means of preventing future development in the vicinity of the site.

There are currently three Unesco world heritage sites on the island of Ireland. These include The Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim which was inscribed in 1986 and Brú na Bóinne in Co Meath which include the neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth and which was granted recognition in 1993. Skellig Michael in CO Kerry was inscribed in 1996.

The World Heritage List currently has 878 properties: 679 of which are cultural, 174 natural and 25 mixed in 145 States Parties. Among the sites are the Alhambra in Spain, Timbuktu in Mali, the Red Square in Russia and the Taj Mahal in India and the Acropolis in Greece.

Irish Times

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