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21 August 2005
Campaigners unveil alternative route away from Tara

A new campaigning group - Tarawatch - has been formed. The group sees its role as articulating the opinion of the 70% of the Irish population who are against the routing of the proposed M3 through the Tara Complex. The group's first public action took place at the M50  tool-booth operated by National Toll Roads who are part of the  consortium most likely to build and collect tolls on the proposed  M3 for the next 25 years as part of a Private Public partnership
arrangement. Leaflets were distributed at the action to motorists.
     A member of Tarawatch, Michael Canney said "The government are attempting to frame the debate over the M3 in terms of heritage and environmental campaigners VS the commuter and motorist. We have set out today to convince motorists that the  length of commuting times is the real problem and that the lack  of public transport alternatives is contributing greatly to it".
     The new group sees itself as an extending and broadening the already existing campaign against the plan to run the new M3 through the Tara-Skryne Valley. It intends to be action oriented and will be launching a major website soon.
     Lawyer Vincent Salafia said he had separated himself from the Tarawatch
protest group because he did not want them exposed to liability in the event that he loses his High Court action against the route. He said he was personally exposed financially if he loses the forthcoming case.
     Mr Salafia presented what he said was a professionally designed and 'legally acceptable' engineering solution which would protect the  Hill of Tara. The alternative route is up to 2km shorter between Navan and Dunshaughlin and brings the M3 nearer to Trim, which would make sense he said. "The NRA and the Government are saying 'you must allow us to build  this motorway through Tara or you must sit in traffic jams; it's the only solution'. The only people who will benefit from the construction of the M3 are  the toll road operators and property speculators," he added.
     The NRA insists that the route chosen makes most sense economically and that it will run further from the Hill of Tara than the existing N3. However, Mr Salafia said Tara had to be considered a complex and that it wasn't confined to the hill itself. He wants the entire complex declared a World Heritage Site.
     Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe said he would like to see the matter brought back before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment. The Green Party TD also said he believed there was public concern about some of the investigation methods currently being used on sites around Tara. Diggers are in operation on a number of the sites and  some environmentalists claim they may cause irreparable damage to terrain or artifacts of archeological and historical significance.

Source: Tarawatch (19 August 2005)

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