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23 September 2007
Court battles loom in fight to save Tara Hill

Campaigners are preparing to take their battle to stop the extension of a motorway near Tara Hill (Co. Meath, Ireland) to courts in Strasbourg and Dublin next month. The World Monuments Fund, a global organisation that protects ancient buildings, put pressure on the European Commission this weekend to use the European Court of Justice to halt the works at the Lismullin national monument in Co Meath. Meanwhile two Irish campaign groups are going to Dublin High Court in early October to seek an injunction to stop further building in and around the monument.
     In a statement the WMF said the landscape surrounding Tara Hill is set to be destroyed if motorway construction continues. The fund has put Tara Hill on its top 100 list of most endangered archaeological and heritage sites across the world. Bonnie Burnham, the president of the WMF, said: "We are horrified at the prospect of a radical alteration of such an important site and call upon the authorities to reconsider their decision. It would be a huge loss to the world if Tara is destroyed." Burnham's colleague, Dr Jonathan Foyle, the chief executive of WMF Britain, said overdevelopment of the entire Tara valley would be 'an injury to the people of Ireland'. Dr Foyle said the WMF had written to the European Commission urging them to seek an interim injunction at the European Court of Justice to halt further development of the M3 motorway route at Tara.
     Meanwhile, the campaign group Tarawatch confirmed that they are going to Dublin High Court early next month to seek an injunction to halt work at the site. Vincent Salafia, Tarawatch's spokesman, said: "It's getting late in terms of saving Tara ourselves and possibly one other campaign group is getting ready to take the case within the next couple of weeks. The combination of our case in the High Court and a parallel case taken by the European Commission might just halt construction in the interim period." He also welcomed the World Monuments Fund's intervention in the Tara controversy. 'It's a very welcome development that the WMF have come on side.
     This weekend environmental activists intensified their campaign. One hundred Irish harpists played outside the gates of Dail Eireann in protest. Irish born actor-director Stuart Townsend will fly a plane over the Tara Valley and take aerial pictures of the site. The photographs taken from the plane will be used by artist John Quigley to create a harp-shaped landscape painting of the Tara Valley. Poets, musicians, historians and archaeologists have joined the Save Tara group outside the Consulate General of Ireland in New York on Saturday. At the same time protests were held in Chicago, Los Angeles and Dublin. The US protests are the latest in a string of high profile moves to pressure the Government into re-routing the M3.

Sources: Online.ie, The Press Association, The Irish Times (21 September 2007), The Observer (23 September 2007)

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