| 7 August 2007
Protest at M3/Tara ends peacefully
Protests held against the excavation of a prehistoric site on the route of the M3 motorway (co. Meath, Ireland) passed off peacefully. The Lismullen site was declared a national monument in May but is to be removed and preserved by recording what is found, allowing the motorway to proceed along its original route. Demonstrators from various groups blocked archaeologists and construction workers from entering the site, where excavations began. However, following the arrival of gardaí and security staff the protesters ended their standoff. Speaking about the demonstration John Farrelly of Tarawatch said: "When the gardaí arrived at the site, a decision was made to end the standoff as we did not want anybody to be injured. Peaceful protesters at Tara have been subjected to rough handling by workers in the past, and we did not wish to see such scenes repeated here today".
The prehistoric circular henge monument at Lismullin was discovered earlier this year, leading conservationists to claim it supported their contention that the Hill of Tara archaeological complex also included the Gabhra Valley area. In June, former minister for the environment Dick Roche signed an order for the 'preservation by record' of the monument. In one of his final acts in office, Mr Roche decided that it should be photographed, sketched and measured before the motorway goes through the site. New Green Party Minister for the Environment John Gormley has insisted he does not have the power to re-route the M3. However, Tarawatch maintains that Mr Gormley does have the power to preserve the Tara Complex and reroute the M3 motorway.
Laura Grealish of Tarawatch said that today's demonstration highlighted "the disgust" people feel over Minister Gormley's handling of the matter. Ms Grealish also said the group are preparing solicitor's letters to send to the authorities in the hope that excavations will be halted imminently. Protester Vincent Salafia said: "Excavation is controlled demolition, and this spectacular new national monument should be preserved. Otherwise, what was the point in declaring it a national monument in the first place?" Late last month the Love Tara march took over Dublin’s O’Connell Street, with all 32 counties represented. Four conservationists were arrested during picketing and held at Cloverhill Prison. The last time Tara was threatened — in 1902 — Nobel Prize-winning poet WB Yeats declared: "Tara is, because of its associations, probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland and its destruction will leave many bitter memories behind it."
Sources: Ireland.com, Irish Examiner, Online.ie (7 August 2007)
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