| 8 October 2006
Is the 'Battle of Tara' over?
The last legal obstacle to the long-delayed M3 motorway in Ireland has been removed and work on the project will start in June of next year following an agreement by an environmental campaigner to end a legal action blocking the road's construction.
Mr Salafia said that he was pleased to announce that a settlement had been reached before the Supreme Court in his case against the Minister for the Environment, the Attorney General, Meath County Council and the NRA regarding the excavation and planned construction of the M3 "through the Hill of Tara archaeological complex." He said he had accepted an offer from the other parties to settle the proceedings after advice from his lawyers that it was in the best interests of the campaign to preserve the integrity of the Tara complex. In the agreement, he has agreed to withdraw his Supreme Court appeal in return for their pledge not to pursue him personally for costs, estimated to be 600,000 euros.
Mr Salafia said that the path was now clear for fresh legal challenges to the M3 at Tara by independent third parties, "one of which is understood to be under way." However, the NRA said this week that it knew nothing of any further legal actions against the project.
The removal of legal blockages to the construction of the M3 got a warm reception across the political spectrum. The Mayor of Navan, Colr Tommy Reilly, said that the news that the way was now open for the building of the M3 was "brilliant." Many people had heartfelt views concerning the possible impact of the project on the historic area around the Hill of Tara, said Meath East Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee. "The experience of archaeologists should, I believe, be available during the project to advise the contractors who will construct the motorway."
According to Mr Salafia, "The substance of my case will now be brought directly to the Environment Directorate of the European Union and I am petitioning the EU to take legal action directly against Ireland for breaches of EU law. The evidence will show how the NRA has systematically underplayed the extent and significance of the Tara archaeological complex, in light of the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment only identified 5 out of 38 sites. The campaign will cotinue in earnest and I will remain Legal Affairs spokesperson for TaraWatch and continue to seek a political solution."
TaraWatch has recently been contacted by the World Monuments Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered ancient and historic sites around the world. They suggested TaraWatch to make a submission with a view to putting the Tara complex on the list of World's 100 Most Endangered Sites list. The group is also in direct contact with Europa Nostra, the administrators of European Heritage Week, who are considering launching an investigation into the Tara affair.
Sources: TaraWatch press release (3 October 2006), Meath Chronicle (7 October 2006)
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