The Hill of Tara is Ireland's ancient capital, and premier national monument. However, the Irish Government is planning to build a motorway through the Gabhra Valley between the Hill of Tara and the Hill of Skryne, County Meath, just 1000 metres from the top of the Hill. It was placed on the World Monuments Fund, List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, 2008, after being nominated by TaraWatch.
The Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, said in a department press release, April 2008 that he did not see M3 motorway preventing the Hill of Tara from being nominated as a world heritage site. Mr Gormley said that he believed it would be possible to take a series of initiatives to preserve the site. The initiatives would prevent “commercial spread” alongside the motorway, the Minister said. He also said a directive would be put in place to provide landscape protection. Mr Gormley commented that with these measures in place Tara could still meet the strict criteria for incorporation on the list of UN world heritage sites. Such criteria rely heavily on natural or man-made heritage being well preserved.
Referring to the review of the tentative list of proposed world heritage sites, Mr Gormley spoke of his desire to include the Hill of Tara national monument. He said his department had engaged Dr Jukka Jokilehto, a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) to visit Tara and the other sites currently on what is known as the “tentative list” for inclusion.
Mr Gormley said Dr Jokilehto had “concluded that the Hill of Tara National monument has strong merit for inclusion in an application to Unesco for consideration as a world heritage site.
TaraWatch supports the nomination of the Hill of Tara archaeological complex and natural landscape to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, but is opposed to the construction of the M3 motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley. The Minister for the Environment and the Irish Government have the power to reroute the M3 motorway, away from Tara.
We call on UNESCO and ICOMOS to support the nomination of the Hill of Tara to the World Heritage list, but to insist that the M3 be rerouted first. Allowing the M3 to proceed would destroy the integrity of the site, and be a breach of the World Heritage Convention, which Ireland signed in 1992.
ICOMOS Ireland is holding its AGM in Dublin next Wed, 4th June, at Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland, 8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
TaraWatch will use this occasion to launch the UNESCO/ICOMOS petition, reflecting the arguments made above. We will gather there at 9.00am, peacefully demonstrate, and give copies of the petition to ICOMOS members attending the meeting.
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