Tara Watch........risking Her Life
Posted 30 June 2008 - 10:17
The privatisation of Irish archaeology and corruption on the road schemes
I requested that in the tradition of WAC, such a session be open to all involved in fighting cultural destruction and suggested a fee waiver for campaigners due to the prohibitive costs of attending.
WAC replied agreeing to include public discussion on the case of Tara and the M3 during the debate in the ethics forum on Thursday 3rd July. Tara was to be one of two cases examined in detail by participants in this forum.
WAC suggested I contact one of the co-organisers of the forum if I wished to be involved myself. I replied repeating my concern that any campaigners could participate if they so wished. I reiterated my request for a fee waiver and also asked, following a request from Tara campaigners, about a crèche so that those who are normally excluded, like campaigners who are the mothers of young children, could participate. There was no response.
Later I wrote to the session organizer to whom WAC had referred me, and received an email which included the following:
‘…the format of the session is not a debate, nor is it even going to be specifically about the cases that the ethics forum participants studied in preparation. We've revised the format of the forum in response to dialogues with stakeholders, members of the WAC Executive and the WAC Committee on Ethics, as well as in relation to what information would be most beneficial to WAC. With that in mind, our forum will be a panel presentation/discussion of recommendations to give to WAC on considering ethical cases in general, so that future cases can be avoided/prevented/considered in constructive/non-painful ways.
Our forum participants did study two real cases studies in preparation for this, but the public panel will be process-oriented and future-focused… in shifting the public panel format off of the specific cases, we hope to maintain our focus on this process, minimize further pain for stakeholders, and also avoid our participants and the forum itself from being pigeonholed politically as "for" or "against" a particular issue…’
Following subsequent confusion on whether there would still be a discussion on Tara at this forum, my department sought clarification from this session organizer and was told in a second email that:
‘…We will not be detailing the specifics of either case we studied. As I've attempted to explain in both emails (to you and Vincent [Salafia]), our process-driven and future-oriented recommendations are *informed by* the case studies our participants have been studying, but the public forum will not be focused or commenting *directly* on those… specific stakeholders were contacted by us earlier to submit to the participants position statements that would be taken into consideration along with the published material on the case studies we chose… there was (and still is) a process in place for which we were gathering direct statements from interested parties - that's just not the focus of our public forum (we have never wanted the forum to be a soapbox for any side of any of the issues)…’
She added that the ‘stakeholders’ selected by WAC for this pre-congress study and who submitted documentation included the NRA. We understand that UCD is now telling journalists there will be discussion of Tara in some sessions though there’s no information on the format or level of participation. So we don’t know if there will be substantive discussion– it’s anyone’s guess.
Whatever the case may be, most of those who have spent years trying to oppose destruction at Tara will not be able to participate. WAC chose which grouping in the movement it wanted to participate and by means of this action, the prohibitively expensive entry fee and emails such as those above, WAC appear to have effectively closed the discussion down. said to other campaigners, to archaeologists opposed to the motorway or whose field, like in my own case, is professional ethics and active opposition to cultural destruction: you can’t speak. The campaigner they have chosen to participate in the debate credited WAC for organising a Tara/M3 discussion rather than those who insisted on such a discussion.
Meanwhile the article published in the academic journal Public Archaeology to coincide with the World Archaeological Congress in Dublin is circulating. It discusses the privatization of archaeology, corrupt development and the movement against it, looking at the case of Tara and the M3 in particular. It can be found at the link below.
As it says at the end of the article, 'if privatized archaeology in the service of corrupt development is adopted as the model globally, it will be used in the Third World to cause the deaths of millions of people in wars and US-backed ‘democracy and development’ projects... Already there is an attempt to use WAC to approve a global, privatised archaeology modelled on recent development in Ireland.'
Related Link: http://www.nuigalway...ie_ronayne.html
Posted 4 July 2008 - 10:27
Meanwhile Down The Road
Rath Maeve, M.143, is a large circular rath and a protected national monument close to Tara. It was the mythological home of Maeve, the old earth goddess and consort of successive kings of Tara. As such it has a central place in our heritage and should be afforded all the respect and care it deserves. However yesterday when we visited it we were shocked to see that the entire rath has been planted with Kale. This involved it been ploughed up, planted and it is to be expected, later harvested. Kale is a deep growing vegetable with a long tap root. The harvesting will entail soil disturbance to a dept of at least half a metre. As far as we know no archeologically investigation has taken place on Rath Maeve and no archaeologist was present at the ploughing so priceless items belonging to our history and heritage could have been removed or destroyed. It is known and accepted that this happened in the past and much of what was of value under our soil was destroyed or carried away. That this is again happening today and under a green environment n minister beggars belief.
We also visited the henge site at Colvonstown, with an ancient standing stone at its centre. M.135. This henge is a perfect horse-shoe shaped henge with an opening to the east and so one can assume it was used as a spiritual place of sun worship and ritual. Just last year one could see the traces of a path leading across the fields to the henge, now however recent ploughing has obliterated this. The henge is now full of thistle but there are tractor marks where the plougher drove his tractor over and across the henge, damaging it severely. Also at the back of the henge, away from the roadside, a large portion of the edge has been removed. This henge has stood sentry here for many, many centuries but one more year of this vandalism will regulate it to the long, long list of endangered, neglected and destroyed monuments which now litter our once beautiful land. Earlier in the day we seen this at Teltown, where just ten years ago a farmer was allowed remove a large part of the ancient royal stand without sanction or imprisonment. This same farmer now uses these ancient Knockans as a place to wrap and throw his unwanted plastic.
These monuments belong to us. They could be the focus of a vibrant sustainable and unique tourist industry, something we are going to need as productive industry heads east and leaves us to pick up the pieces of what some still call a boom. We need these monuments in these multi cultural times to provide an anchor and identity for our own young. Above all we need them to remind us of our once proud spiritual past. If we are to stop the feral vandalism now running riot in our land, where nothing seems to be respected, treasured or cared for then we need to knock loudly on the doors of our politicians and if they continue to neglect their duty, as they are now doing, and refuse to do their jobs which they are paid to do, then it must be made clear to everyone; we do not have a future. All our hopes, dreams and aspirations can be easily removed by first removing our past. Market forces will do the rest.
We have photographed and documented all of the above, it is now on record and the photos can be sent to anyone who wishes to see them. The Monument numbers given are those used in the OS Map No. 43.
Posted 4 July 2008 - 15:10
Posted 4 July 2008 - 17:25
The destruction of heritage is not just an Irish thing. I believe that you find yourself hard pressed to name places where the profit of a few does not overpower the weight of what should be in the interest of us all - our past - no matter where we are.
Posted 10 July 2008 - 21:48
These words were just an expression of my own sadness and reality hitting home. There were in no way meant to point something out you know already.
Question Nos. 73 and 78
Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Oidhreachta agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government:
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on the claim that the report of an archaeologist regarding the proposed road at Tara was falsified (details supplied).
- Martin Ferris.
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has taken steps to establish or investigate if the necessary archeological information was available when the decision to approve the M3 Motorway route was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Joanna Tuffy.
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 9th July, 2008.
Ref Nos: 26938/08 and 27565/08
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gormley):
I propose to take Question Nos. 73 and 78 together.
The decision to approve the M3 Motorway route was made by an Bord Pleanala in August 2003. Under the relevant provisions of the National Monuments Acts, the statutory functions of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the matter relate only to the regulation of archaeological works associated with an approved road scheme, such as the M3.
According to my Department's records, the archaeologist who wrote the report referred to in recent media allegations was granted six licences under the National Monuments Acts in 2004 to carry out test trenching on the approved route of the M3 motorway in accordance with the requirements of the EIS for the scheme. The licences related to archaeological investigative works on the Navan to Kells (including the Kells Bypass) section of the motorway, but not on the
Dunshaughlin to Navan section, which passes through the Gabhra valley, between Tara and Skryne.
The test excavations were carried out following the standard methodolgy used in such cases i.e. a 2 metre wide trench was
excavated along the centre line of the approved route with offset trenches at 20 m intervals extending to the edge of the land-take for the road. Reports on the results of the test excavations carried out were submitted to the Department and Ministerial directions were issued for the full archaeological excavation and recording of all the archaeological sites identified in the test excavations. These excavations were carried out under the direction of qualified and experienced archaeologists and work on all the sites has been completed. Archaeologists from my Department carried out inspections of the foregoing works on a number of occasions. The reports of the test excavations submitted to my Department were comprehensive and were considered accurately and fully to reflect what was found during these excavations.
In later High Court proceedings, Vincent Salafia v. the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Meath County Council, Ireland and the Attorney General, the High Court considered, inter alia, the archaeological trench testing that took place on the route of the M3 between March and December 2004 and the reports on that testing. In its judgement in the case, the Court found that the Minister at the time considered carefully and in detail the material
supplied to him before issuing the foregoing directions and having sought the advice of the Director of the National Museum, as required under the National Monuments Acts, he was entitled to issue the directions in the circumstances in which they were issued.
A Code of Practice on archaeological heritage protection between my Department and the NRA has been in place for a number of years. The Code commits the NRA to a number of principles including the appointment of its own staff of project archaeologists to oversee archaeological works associated with road developments. The Code also provides that where any dispute arises between the relevant project archaeologist and a consultant archaeologist carrying out
archaeological works, the matter will be referred to the Department for a decision. There is no record of any dispute between the NRA's project archaeologists for the M3 motorway and any of the consultant archaeologists working on the scheme ever having been referred to the Department.
Please Sign the new Save Tara UNESCO petition
According to an archeological investigation carried out after heavy machinery unearthed the henge at Lismullin the "surviving features investigated to date are very shallow."
"The site is a large (c.80m diameter) circular enclosure formed of a double row or ring of stakeholes. The two rows are c.2m apart. The stakeholes are small in diameter (c.10-15cm) and evenly spaced (c.60cm apart) perhaps suggesting post and wattle construction. The enclosure appears to have an entrance in the east. A smaller enclosure c.16m in diameter formed of similarly closely spaced postholes (c.25cm diameter) is positioned centrally within the large enclosure. There are two radial rows of postholes forming a corridor between the entrance of the outer and inner enclosures. In addition there are what appear to be two slot trenches between the end of the corridor and the entrance of the inner enclosure (Fig. 4.).
The enclosure is situated at the centre of a natural geomorphological hollow surrounded by a ridge of higher ground which overlooks all sides of the monument, which in turn is surrounded by lower ground. A portion of the enclosure extends
beyond the limit of the CPO landtake edge."
Information on Archaeological Investigations at Lismullin, Co. Meath A008/021 & E3074.
It does seem rather increditable that with 2m wide trenches every 20m such large feature was completely missed.
Posted 11 July 2008 - 18:08
(Just received from Maggie. Please spread wide and far.Muireann)
WAC press release on Tara below, sent to me by the senior rep on the WAC executive for northern europe. Please forward to all the Tara campaigns and others who may not have access to email.
Lecturer in Archaeology
National University of Ireland, Galway
Tel: +353 (0)91 493701
For Immediate Release - 11th July, 2008
TARA'S WORLD HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE
Following the largest ever international gathering of archaeologists in Dublin, Ireland, the World Archaeological Congress has released a statement expressing its opposition to any further development alongside the new stretch of motorway
in the wider landscape zone surrounding the historical site of Tara in Co Meath, Ireland."Tara has significance far beyond Ireland itself," said Professor Claire Smith, President of the World Archaeological Congress. "Its iconic significance
derives from its unique cultural character, as situated in a broader landscape.
The World Archaeological Congress 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 here in Ireland, we sent two senior representatives to look at the issue of the motorway, " said Professor Claire Smith. "They found that all the archaeological work had been done to the highest professional standards."
However, during the Congress a number of competing and often contradictory claims were made and the World Archaeological Congress has now commissioned a report on the Tara discussions. The World Archaeological Congress stressed that its report would not interfere with the legal and consultative planning process already completed in Ireland. "We do not question the validity of the planning process undertaken in Ireland. Our purpose is to learn lessons for the future and for other countries with issues surrounding development archaeology," said Professor Smith. "There are many strong opinions about Tara and it is important that valid claims receive due attention, and that misinformation be sifted out. This can only be done through a considered study," Professor Smith said. Recognising that the reburial of ancient remains in Ireland is subject to the provisions of the National Monuments Act and the agreement of the National Museum of Ireland, the World Archaeological Congress also draws attention to the Vermillion Accord on human remains and suggests that any human remains excavated from the cultural landscape of Tara should be re-interred with due respect as close as possible to their original locations, as this is where these people would have wished to be buried. The World Archaeological Congress notes the significant adverse impact that motorways and other forms of development can have on valuable cultural landscapes."Throughout the world, developments such as motorways can have significant adverse impact on cultural landscapes," said Professor Smith. "Cultural heritage needs to be factored into the planning process from the beginning.""In order to address these issues from a global perspective the World Archaeological Congress will be holding an Inter-Congress with the theme "Rethinking relations of Archaeology and Development."The Inter-Congress on archaeology and development is likely to be held in Lund, Sweden, in 2009.
Further Information: Professor Claire Smith
Mobile: 0872 698 353 (Ireland)
Dr Jon Price
The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only elected international body of practising archaeologists. WAC holds an international congress every four years to promote the exchange of the results of archaeological research; professional training and public education for disadvantaged nations, groups and communities; the empowerment and betterment of Indigenous groups and First Nations peoples; and the conservation of archaeological sites.
The Sixth World Archaeological Congress (WAC-6) was held from 29th June-4th July at the University College Dublin. This was the first World Archaeological Congress to be held in Ireland. It was attended by over 1,800 archaeologists,
native peoples and international scholars from 74 nations. Motions from the Plenary session of the Congress were considered by subsequent meetings of the World Archaeological Congress Council and Executive.
The Congress Patron for WAC-6 was President Mary McAleese. Previous Congress Patrons include Harriet Mayor Fulbright, Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela.
Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:00
As another archaeologist protests, another bizarre council decision M3 was fine ... but now a phone mast would 'destroy' Tara
(Photo of henge, inset Martin Dier and Jo Ronayne with captions: Ancient: The Lismullin Henge archaeological find, discovered on the proposed M3 route in the Tara/Skryne Valley/ Upset: Martin Dier/ Altered: Jo Ronayne)
by Luke Byrne
It is the historic seat of the High Kings and the site through which the controversial M3 motorway was granted planning permission. Which makes Meath County Council planners' decision to reject permission for a 36-metre mobile phone mast in the Tara/Skryne Valley because of archaeological concerns all the more surprising.
Despite protests that the site was of archaeological importance, the National Roads Authority's M3 motorway project was given the final go-ahead in May 2005 when, based on initial archaeological surveys, then-environment minister Dick Roche refused to classify the zone as archaeologically protected.
In the council's refusal of the phone mast application, Meath council's executive planner Pádraig O'Shea cited rchaeological concerns, 'having regard to the recent discovery of two recorded monuments in the locality during construction work relating to the M3 motorway'.
The council also noted the proposed mast would be 70m west of the M3 and would, therefore, be 'a predominant feature on the landscape'. The council stated that in the absence of an archaeological impact assessment, the applicant, Vertical Property Holding Ltd, had failed to demonstrate that the proposed development would not 'have adverse impact on potential archaeological material, haveing regard to the two recent M3 discoveries'.
However, an archaeologist who worked during the test trenching phase at Tara in 2004, said the decision showed 'double standards' in planning permission for the area.
Martin Dier - who worked for NRA subcontractor Archeological Consultancy Services Ltd as a supervisor during the archeological test trenching of the Tara Valley - said: 'The way Lismullin Henge was dealt with is deplorable, and incompetence is a word that comes to mind.'
He criticised the NRA's handling of the archaeology in the area. Speaking about the Rath Lugh site, he said: 'It was amazinly absent on many road maps produced by the NRA. But on page 12 of 23, Testing Area 10 report, the monument is said to be 1110m from the road take. Now the road is 20m from it. No one has explained how either the monument or the road moved.'
Commenting on his own work on the M3, Mr Dier said: 'During this [test trenching] phase, I was delighted to get a glimpse of the archaeology and I would have been making sure that there was truth and transparency in what was happening.
'But I also thought that, in reality, the project would never see fruition due to the sensitivity of the site. 'However, when the M3 was given the green light, I decided I couldn't morally justify bringing myself to work there.'
The Irish Mail on Sunday revealed a report two weeks ago in which leading archaeologist Jo Ronayne - who also worked for Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd in 2004 - claimed her reports were downplayed to allow the road to go ahead.
The NRA issued a press release denying the claims. It stated: 'The National Roads Authority rejects these claims and accusations and reiterates that it has always sought to ensure the observance of the highest professional standards and best practice procedures in the conduct of, and reporting on, archaeological investigations and excavations on national road schemes'.
However, Mr Dier reaffirmed Miss Ronayne's claims last night. 'A tactic of the NRA is to downplay the importance of any find,' he said.
Posted 15 July 2008 - 10:37
Irish Times, July 15 2008
Archaeology needs to recover its core principles and ethics
OPINION: There was lively debate on the M3 motorway at the recent World Archaeological Congress in Dublin but also disturbing developments about the congress itself, writes Maggie Ronayne .
The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) was founded in 1986 when archaeologists decided to implement the UN-sanctioned cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa.
Yet at the congress that concluded in Dublin on July 4th, there was an attempt to co-opt the profession to serve development by multinationals. The presence of the US military shocked many, as did sponsorship by Rio Tinto, the mining and exploration company.
The programme for the Dublin congress intended to ignore Tara and the M3, the biggest controversy in Irish archaeology since Wood Quay in 1979 - not surprising given that the National Roads Authority (NRA) was one of its sponsors. I pressed for debate and campaigners urged me on.
A Tara panel, scene of stormy presentations from various sides, did eventually occur. A good precedent was set: campaigners participated and proposed resolutions. Voting on resolutions opposing cultural destruction by the M3 was too close to call more than once and they were forwarded to the WAC's assembly for discussion. On July 11th, the WAC
issued a press release on Tara and the M3 which said: "We do not question the validity of the planning process undertaken in Ireland."
Many of us clearly do.
My article in Public Archaeology about road development in Ireland and corruption in development planning processes was widely circulated. Most archaeologists are now employed by private companies on temporary, short-term contracts. As in other countries, this has gone in tandem with increasingly bureaucratic, corporate control of universities and pressure on academics to orient our teaching to prioritise the needs of industry.
Crucial questions of professional ethics and standards, particularly our accountability to the community, are sidelined. Colleagues in the private sector give regular reports of bad practice and cutting corners on roads projects, including the M3. I quoted an archaeologist who directed test-trenching on the M3 route: "A number of times, I was told to change an interpretation which served to lessen the potential or numbers of sites."
Reports from this fieldwork informed the Minister for the Environment's decision on salvage excavation licences for the M3.
The article provoked international debate and an outpouring via e-mail and phone; people seemed to need to get out of their system what they had swallowed for years.
Field colleagues contacted me to confirm they also had experienced bad practices on the road projects but, for the most part, those on precarious, temporary contracts don't come forward; they fear being sacked, blacklisted or bullied out of their profession.
There is lip service to heritage but the Government tends to protect the roads industry while archaeologists are used to destroy archaeology - not only physical remains but also our profession's core principles.
There are new structures in place that invite us to contravene basic standards and enable bad practice. For example, a developer's archaeologists oversee those doing the testing for potential archaeology on a road route; they have sight of, and admit they may comment on or edit, test-trenching reports. Notwithstanding the best intentions of the NRA's archaeologists, the developer employs them and there is a built-in conflict of interest. This needs changing.
Much is made of whether archaeology could stop projects like the M3. My experience working with communities in campaigns against cultural destruction in various countries is that archaeology alone rarely stops developers.
Problems with archaeology on the M3 should surely be investigated but by a people's inquiry (facilitated by academia perhaps) also looking at reported land speculation and toll profits, failure to consider cheaper and more effective public transport or energy provision, the circumstances surrounding the sale of national resources to the private
sector, attempts to divide local communities and failure to properly consult and inform them, involvement of multinationals with links to corrupt development elsewhere or profiteering in war zones, and an investigation of all the professional structures and the often strange planning decisions that permit disputed developments.
These are issues that communities all over Ireland and worldwide struggle with as they fight for their lives, livelihoods, land and culture. The M3 construction and indeed other disputed developments such as Shell's pipeline and refinery in Mayo, must stop while this inquiry happens; we have won the battle to halt far bigger developments - it is never too late.
The Tara debate was the talk of the congress; many international colleagues expressed shock at the remarks of Brian Duffy, the State's chief archaeologist: "I don't care where the money comes from if it pays for good archaeological work."
Many felt that the partisan nature of the State sector indicated that few field colleagues in the private sector would consider reporting instances of bad practice. Following the debate on Tara and several similar cases from other countries, WAC's final plenary passed the following resolution: "Noting the increasing role of the private sector/cultural resource management in the profession, the World Archaeological Congress expresses serious concern at the potential for
erosion of standards and professional ethics. The congress calls for explicit inclusion of these concerns in its Code of Ethics. The congress calls on all colleagues to support those field archaeologists working in the private sector, who are striving to maintain professional standards in difficult conditions."
There have been recent reports on the reversal of privatisation in New Zealand, reflecting a growing trend. There is a similar feeling in archaeology that independent regulation of this sector is needed with some advocating a return to archaeology as a wholly public sector service. Others besides me think that Ireland might provide a model.
As recession hits and the corporations seek others who will do the work for less, who will defend our standards and values based on the autonomy of professions? What will remain of our cultural roots, so vital to sustaining this island's communities?
Those defending our heritage are not opposing development; rather, we support communities pressing for development which meets their needs. One thing is sure: embedding ourselves with destroyers of culture and communities, with its brown envelope culture, supports neither professions, nor communities, nor cultural heritage nor this island's future. Ireland and the wider world are in a "state of chassis" once again, and it is time to speak out.
• Maggie Ronayne is a lecturer in archaeology at NUI Galway
© 2008 The Irish Times
Posted 8 August 2008 - 09:41
- can be proud of its standards
By - Margaret Gowen.
OPINION: Archaeologists are strictly regulated and are motivated by a deep and genuine interest in the past and its remains, writes Margaret Gowen.
MAGGIE RONAYNE'S article (Archaeology needs to recover its core principles and ethics, The Irish Times , July 15th.) displays a remarkably inaccurate, wildly biased, and completely unfounded perspective on the practice of archaeology, and especially commercial archaeology, in Ireland.
In her article, Ronayne wrote that crucial questions of professional ethics and standards, particularly archaeologists' accountability to the community, had been sidelined. She claimed that lip service was paid to heritage but the Government tended to protect the roads industry while archaeologists were used to destroy archaeology.
In my view, all archaeologists are motivated by a deep and genuine interest in the past and its material remains. The guiding influence of past generations and the training that have shaped the development of modern archaeology embody universally accepted ethical principles. These have been formulated over time in relation to the preservation, study, excavation, analysis and dissemination of professional work.
As someone who has spent over 25 years working in commercial archaeology and developing standards of practice in that context, I and a great many of my commercial archaeology colleagues take great offence at the accusation that "archaeologists are used to destroy archaeology - not only physical remains but also our profession's core principles".
Commercial archaeologists primarily mediate for the heritage resource in development planning, using the policy presumption for preservation of archaeological remains first and foremost. They engage in the scientific excavation and recording of archaeological sites only where this is deemed, by the State, to be appropriate.
Our work is underpinned by the European Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (1992), which was ratified by Ireland in 1997. The Irish National Monuments Acts (1930 - 2004), and their particular interface with the Planning and Development Acts (1963, 2000, 2004 and 2006) embody a rigorous regulatory system, considered to be one of the most strict in Europe.
Ronayne's campaign, extremely anti-development as it is, seeks to persuade the public of her case by singling out the archaeological profession for her extreme views.
Members of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland are drawn from all sectors of the profession (academic, State sector heritage management, local government, museums, State agencies and the private sector, from graduate level to the most senior positions within the profession). The institute's members all adhere to its code of practice and its guidelines on best practice, each of which embody a range of fundamental ethical principles in relation to professional conduct. The institute has received no complaints of malpractice and no representation from site-based staff in relation to conditions of employment or standards of practice.
Commercial (market-led) archaeology has been long established internationally. The market is an artificial one, however, that exists only because State legislation requires and upholds the protection and management of heritage and the archaeological resource (a non-renewable resource).
As with other forms of environmental protection and control, the Irish State and many other European states have adopted a "polluter pays" principle to the payment for such protection and management. Commercial archaeologists therefore serve a variety of State, community, professional and client stakeholders in a highly regulated professional environment.
A fundamental error made by Ronayne is her premise that a commissioning client for commercial archaeological work has an undue, if not sole, right of influence on the nature and quality of the work undertaken. She also tries to persuade her readers that the influence of a commissioning client will always be negative for heritage. This is simply not supportable, nor is there any evidence to back it up.
The role of archaeologists involved in development projects is a dual one. Rather than taking the position of anti-development campaigners, they can and do play an important constructive role in terms of protecting archaeological heritage and minimising the impact of a development. They also maximise the return to knowledge through archaeological discovery and research arising as a consequence of development.
If mistakes have been made in the past, they have been made through a failure on the part of the profession, generally, to communicate the case for archaeology and for archaeological landscapes adequately within the due process of planning.
What has been recognised, especially in recent years, is that the profession must seek to assist in integrating archaeological practice more fully within spatial planning and, more importantly, must seek to achieve the appropriate weighting of their particular concerns, among a myriad of others, in that context. This now, incontrovertibly, extends to a need for the statutory designation and management of important archaeological landscapes.
What is so depressing about Ronayne's viewpoint is that it fails to acknowledge that, in compliance with best international practice and standards, an extraordinary amount of seriously good, highly regulated, successful, licensed - and publicly presented - archaeological work has been undertaken and underwritten by State agencies and private developers in Ireland over the past 20 years.
Delegates at the recent 6th. World Archaeological Congress (WAC) in Dublin were singularly impressed by what they heard and saw of Irish archaeology.
Of great importance was the well-considered statement from the congress, reflecting the concern of the archaeological profession in Ireland, in expressing opposition to any further concerted development along the route of the M3 motorway, a position supported by Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley. Secondary development now poses a much greater threat to the Tara landscape. Our efforts as archaeologists should concentrate on convincing Government and all stakeholders to define, protect and manage that landscape and others.
· Margaret Gowen is chairwoman of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland.
© The Irish Times, 22nd. July 2008.
Archaeology needs to recover its core principles and ethics.
The State We're in on Eve of World Archaeological Congress (WAC) 6.
Posted 8 August 2008 - 09:43
Madam, - Margaret Gowen ("Archaeology in Ireland can be proud of its standards", July 22nd.) was responding to the latest protest from professionals internationally against the Market's domination ("Archaeology needs to recover its core principles and ethics", July 15th.). The general public understands that to be "market-led", as Ms. Gowen justifies, is to undermine a "deep and genuine interest" in principles and public accountability.
Yes, colleagues in the private sector struggle to care for cultural heritage and uphold standards, but those whom Ms. Gowen represents have hardly supported such efforts. We agree that archaeological landscapes need to be protected and we wish that for Tara's landscape. That's why we call for a halt to construction work on the M3 motorway and an inquiry into all the circumstances that brought it about. We regret that Ms. Gowen's company did not defend Tara's landscape in the same way during the M3 planning process and that work and testimony by her company, particularly the reversal in the later stages of their earlier warnings on the high significance of this area, facilitated this motorway going ahead.
"Minimising the impact of a development" is hardly a standard for archaeologists, but a compromise with their fundamental ethic: preservation of cultural heritage. We aim far higher, towards the prevention of any destructive development. Much money goes into dressing up development to make cultural destruction palatable.
As professionals we must say no deal. There has been an international debate on ethics in many other professions for years. Independent regulation, or returning archaeology to the public sector, are practical and ethical. In France, the profession refused privatisation.
We understand there is currently a debate within the Minister for the Environment's heritage advisory committee about changing the structures of the profession to try to address recent problems: the public must be told what exactly is being considered.
Professionals are trying to figure out how best to work with the public: it's a crucial question. Countries have passed laws and many professional bodies have codes of ethics requiring archaeologists, for example, to take account of community concerns. Tara does not belong to archaeologists, still less to one sector of the profession or to the NRA and other developers. It belongs to the people of Ireland and the world.
These archaeology debates have found parallels in all professions. There is, for example, a trend away from the great misery caused to communities, culture and the environment by privatisation. Communities and professionals accountable to them rather than any developer must determine what happens to every culture and every heritage. The hope is for professionals to stick to principles and to refuse to serve mammon.
- Yours, etc.,
Lecturer in Archaeology,
Dr. MUIREANN NÍ BHROLCHÁIN,
Dr. JOHN ALLISON,
New Mexico, USA;
Dr. JENNY BLAIN,
Sheffield Hallam University;
State University of New York;
Dr. RAYMOND CORMIER,
Prof. PHILIP DUKE,
Fort Lewis College,
Emeritus Prof. Dr. DORIS R. EDEL,
University of Utrecht,
Dr. DAVID EDWARDS,
Department of History, UCC;
School of Geography,
University of Southampton, UK;
Dr. OONA FRAWLEY,
Member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland;
teacher and former field archaeologist,
Institute of Archaeology,
University College London, UK;
Dr. WILLY KITCHEN,
University of Sheffield, UK;
Dr. NIKOS KOURAMPAS,
University of Stirling, Scotland;
Achill Archaeological Field School,
Princeton University, USA;
Dr. SUE NORTH-BATES,
Sheffield Hallam University;
Prof. Emeritus CHARLES E. ORSER, Jr.,
Curator of Historical Archaeology,
New York State Museum;
Prof. Emeritus EAMONN O CARRAGÁIN,
RIA and Fellow of the Society of
EAMON Ó CIARDHA,
University of Ulster;
Dr. RACHEL POPE,
University of Liverpool;
Dr. TIMOTHY RENNER,
Montclair State University,
New Jersey, USA;
Dr. SIMON RODWAY,
University of Aberystwyth,
Birmingham University, UK;
Prof. DEAN J. SAITTA,
University of Denver,
RAB SWANNOCK FULTON,
University of Sheffield, UK;
Prof. JOHN WADDELL,
Department of Archaeology,
Dr. ROBERT J. WALLIS,
Richmond University, UK;
Dr. CHRISTINA WELCH,
University of Winchester, UK;
Dr. BREANDÁN Ó CÍOBHÁIN,
Prof. TADHG FOLEY,
Dr. ALI K. SAYSEL,
© The Irish Times, 5th. August 2008.
Archaeology in Ireland can be proud of its standards.
Archaeology needs to recover its core principles and ethics.
Posted 8 August 2008 - 09:48
by M. Ni Bhrolchain
Thu Aug 07, 2008
I have just heard that work has begun on the esker. There are three machines in
the area today, probably started about 3 days ago.
They have shaved off a portion of the esker on the road side of the
large fence erected in March.
Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
Posted 12 August 2008 - 07:35
Dear Ms. Diviney,
I have been asked by Mr. John Gormley, T.D. Minister for the
Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to refer further to your
email, of 23 July 2008, regarding the national monument at Rath Lugh.
I wish to confirm that the National Roads Authority submitted a copy
of the design of the proposed Crib Wall at Rath Lugh to this
Department prior to commencing work. An independent consultant was
asked to review the design and proposed construction method and made
a number of recommendations to be put in place before work commenced.
These recommendations were accepted in full. It is understood work on
the Crib Wall is underway.
The works are being archaeologically monitored, with a view to
ensuring in particular that the national monument at Rath Lugh is not
put at risk in any way.
And here some pictures
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