The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which includes:
• The Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura
• The Executive Committee of the General Conference
• The Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, called the World Heritage Committee
• All parties in attendance at the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee, Quebec, Canada, 2-10 July 2008.
• The Irish UNESCO Representatives
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which includes:
• ICOMOS International
• ICOMOS Ireland
• All other national ICOMOS bodies, such as
- ICOMOS Canada,
- ICOMOS UK,
- ICOMOS US,
- ICOMOS Australia,
- ICOMOS Norway, and
- ICOMOS Aotearoa/New Zealand
• All parties in attendance at the ICOMOS Ireland AGM, Dublin, 4 June 2008
• All parties in attendance at the Sixth World Archaeological Congress, University College Dublin, 29th June to 4th July 2008
WHOSE JURISDICTIONS have been jointly invoked in this matter of great national and international importance by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local overnment, of the Republic of Ireland, John Gormley, on 11 May, 2008, in his address at the launch of the legal incorporation and charitable status designation of ICOMOS Ireland. He announced that he had retained an ICOMOS member, Dr Jukka Jokilehto to visit the sites currently on Ireland’s tentative list, as well as the Hill of Tara. Minister Gormley concluded,
“The Hill of Tara National Monument has strong merit for inclusion in an application to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage site”, and that he did “... not see the proposed new road (the M3 motorway) as being an obstacle to making this recommendation.”
I EARNESTLY AND RESPECTFULLY PLEAD THAT:
[I.] The Hill of Tara archaeological complex / cultural and natural landscape, in it's entirety, (hereinafer referred to as “Tara”) be inscribed onto the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites.
BUT ONLY on condition that:
[II.] The proposed M3 motorway, (hereinafter referred to as “the M3”) currently under construction, is re-routed beyond Tara, before the site is given World Heritage Site status, because he M3 is destroying the integrity of the site and landscape,
I MAKE THIS PETITION FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
- UNESCO adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (“The Convention”) in 1972. Ireland ratified the Convention in 1991. The Convention has as its goal the identification and protection of cultural and national heritage of “outstanding universal value”.
- The Hill of Tara complex qualifies as a natural and cultural landscape of outstanding universal value, due to it's unique cultural significance, and the extent of the surviving remains. Tara covers a much larger area than that the 100 acres of State-owned land on the summit of the Hill, which currently delimits the 'national monument'. The M3 passes through the middle of the area to be protected. The entire Tara archaeological complex and cultural/natural landscape should be declared a World Heritage site. Expert bodies, such as the Heritage Council, have recognised Tara consists of the entire Hill of Tara along with the Tara / Skryne valley, as well as the defensive forts that encircle the hill, including national monuments such as the defensive forts of Rath Lugh (to the east), Rath Miles (to the north) and Ringlestown Rath (to the west).
- Ireland has been in breach of the Convention since 1991, by failing to nominate the Hill of Tara to be a World Heritage site, until after the M3 motorway was approved. Article 3 of the Convention states: “It is for each State Party to this Convention to identify and delineate the different properties situated on its territory". A recent UN report on Ireland's implementation of the Convention found that “Inventories, established at national and local levels, have not been used as a basis for selecting World Heritage sites”. This has resulted in the contradictory approach being taken by the Irish Government, which is on one hand facilitating destruction of significant parts of the Tara complex, and on the other, seeking International legal protection for those same parts.
- The Minister for the Environment, has breached his responsibilities under the Convention by initiating the inscription process of making Tara a World Heritage site, while at the same time, failing in his legal duty adequately protect the Tara complex from the immient threat of the M3 motorway. John Gormley, said in a department press release, 11 April 2008, that he did not see M3 motorway preventing the Hill of Tara from being nominated as a world heritage site. He said his department had engaged Dr Jukka Jokilehto, a member of ICOMOS to visit Tara and issue a report on it. It is these statements and actions that have as well as other failures to act, that have invoked the jurisdiction of international law.
- ICOMOS is an international non-governmental organization of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and sites, and is an offical Advistory Body to UNESCO, for purposes of implementing the World Heritage Convention. Both UNESCO and ICOMOS would also be in breach of the Convention by accepting the Minister's nomination of the Tara archaeological complex and cultural/natural landscape, without insisting that the M3 motorway is rerouted, while it still can be.
- National survey's have shown that 70% of Irish people want the M3 rerouted and an Irish Times online survey showed that 82% of people want Tara declared a UNESCO site.
- The World Monuments Fund have placed the Hill of Tara on the 2008 List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.
[Published by TaraWatch.org, 4 June 2008]