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12 March 2006
Court defeat clears way for motorway near Tara

The way could be cleared for construction work to start by this time next year on the controversial M3 motorway following the failure of a Irish High Court challenge to the road last week. Sources have suggested that if there is no appeal to last week’s decision, that work is likely to begin in March 2007, allowing for archaeological excavations to be completed by the end of this year and site preparation work to get underway in the autumn.
     The National Roads Authority (NRA) is this week meeting with its legal team to examine the judgement of High Court Justice Mr Thomas Smyth, who last week dismissed the challenge by campaigner Vincent Salafia against the route of the M3 motorway through the area between the Hill of Tara and Skryne. Mr Justice Smyth ruled that Mr Salafia was not entitled to succeed in any of his claims because of an unjustified two-year delay in bringing them. In a 60-page decision delivered over two and a half hours last Wednesday, Mr Justice Smyth considered all the arguments made by Mr Salafia, including claims that the National Monuments Amendment Act 2004 were unconstitutional, and rejected all of them.
     This week, the various bodies involved in the case were digesting the High Court report. A hearing to determine the costs will take place on Tuesday next, 14th March, after which the court order will be executed. There is then a 21-day period during which Mr Salafia can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
The High Court decision has been welcomed by Meath County Council and local groups that have campaigned in favour of the motorway, as well as the Minister for the Environment.
     The Meath Chambers fought a vigorous campaign to counter the mis-information circulated by those opposed to the M3 route, they said in their statement. “We needed to go to extraordinary lengths to communicate the fact that the proposed route is 1.5 miles away from the centre of the Hill of Tara, and is significantly further away from the hill than the existing N3 route.” Surveys undertaken on behalf of the Chambers and MCM3 have consistently revealed 80-92 per cent support for the M3 as proposed in the county. Local opinion on the M3 was further demonstrated by the massive support given to pro-M3 candidates during the recent by-election.
     Archaeological work as well as the acquisition of land on the M3 route has been ongoing throughout the High Court action, and will continue, with the archaeological digs due to finish on schedule in December.

The Meath Chronicle (11 March 2006)

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