Saturday, June 07, 2008

URGENT CALL for submissions and petition signatures to save Tara, Sixth World Archaeological Congress to meet in Dublin and discuss Tara/M3 29 June

Irish Times - Breaking news: 'Archaeology event to discuss Tara'
Press Association - Archaeologists discuss Hill of Tara'
Melton Times (UK) - 'Archaeologists discuss Hill of Tara'

The Sixth World Archaeological Congress (WAC-6), will meet in Dublin from 29th June to 4th July, 2008, at University College Dublin, and will hold a round table session about the ethics of the Hill of Tara / M3 motorway issue. The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only archaeological organisation with elected global representation. WAC holds an international Congress every four years to promote the exchange of results from archaeological research; professional training and public education for disadvantaged nations, groups and communities; the empowerment and betterment of Indigenous groups and First Nations peoples; and the conservation of archaeological sites.

The co-organisers of the WAC Ethics Forum have selected the M3 Motorway/Hill of Tara "debate" as one of two themes to frame and discuss in public round table sessions. TaraWatch was informed yesterday by Dr Angela Labrador, Department of Anthropology, at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, that WAC has identified them as a stakeholder for this debate. TaraWatch have been asked to submit a written position statement on the matter. This is part of the “Exploring WAC’s Approach(es) to Ethics Theme” sponsored by the WAC Standing Committee on Ethics.

Congress attendees are visiting Tara and Navan Forth Armagh for the WAC-6 Mid-Congress Tours on Wednesday 2nd July Tour 3:

"Tara and Navan – Royal Landscapes Tara in Co. Meath is associated with the high kingship of Ireland in the early medieval period. Emain Macha or Navan in Co. Armagh is the ancient capital of Ulster. Both sites are characterised by a range of archaeological sites going back in date to the Neolithic, but with a major monumental focus on the later prehistoric period. Tara and Navan both have enduring symbolic importance in modern Ireland and have been at the centre of recent debates about the impact of development."

Co-incidentally, TaraWatch launched an international online petition drive yesterday, asking UNESCO and ICOMS to intervene in the Hill of Tara issue. The petition is also addressed to “all those in attendance at WAC-6”. The petition states that it would be a breach of international law, for UNESCO and ICOMOS to declare the Hill of Tara a World Heritage site, with the M3 motorway being built through the middle of it. TaraWatch has agreed to participate in the forum. A comprehensive position statement is being prepared, with the co-operation of a number of historians, archaeologists and lawyers. The paper alleges that it would be a breach of professional ethics, as well as the World Heritage Convention, and other international charters, for UNESCO and ICOMOS to allow the M3 construction to proceed through the Tara landscape. It is of critical importance that the online petition receives as many signatures as possible, with as many comments as possible, from as many countries as possible, before the WAC-6 forum. Please do whatever you can to promote it. We already got 200 in the first 24 hours, so we're off to a good start.

WAC says it "seeks to promote interest in the past in all countries, to encourage the development of regionally-based histories and to foster international academic interaction. It is committed to the scientific investigation of the past, ethical archaeological practice and the protection of cultural heritage worldwide. It supports the empirical investigation and appreciation of the political contexts within which research is conducted and interpreted, and promotes dialogue and debate among advocates of different views of the past. WAC is committed to diversity and to redressing global inequities in archaeology through conferences, publications and scholarly programs. It has a special interest in protecting the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples, minorities and economically disadvantaged countries, and encourages the participation of Indigenous peoples, researchers from economically disadvantaged countries and members of the public. Past Congresses have been held in England, Venezuela, India, South Africa and the USA. Patrons for past Congresses include Prince Charles (WAC-1), Nelson Mandela (WAC-4) and Harriet Fulbright (WAC-5). Selected papers from these conferences are published in the One World Archaeology Series."

NOTE - If you consider yourself a stakeholder, and want to make a submission on this, please forward it to as soon as possible.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS on Hill of Tara / M3 motorway issue for Sixth World Archaeolocial Congress (WAC-6) round table sessionDeadline 12th June.

Please sign the new Tara petition to UNESCO/ICOMOS and WAC-6

TaraWatch recived notification on Thursday 5th June, from the WorldArchaeological Congress (WAC), Committee on Ethics, that we had been recognised as stakeholders in the ongoing Hill of Tara / M3 issue for the upcoming Sixth World Archaeological Congress, (WAC-6) to be held at University College Dublin, from the 29th June to 4th July.

We would like to extend the invitation to the public, and are offering to submit individual and group submissions, on their behalf. WAC have approved this process, and are anxious to hear from all converned parties. Submissions need to be made as soon as possible.
This is a massive boost for the Tara campaign, as it will be an opportunity for heritage experts and professionals from around the world will be looking at it from an objective and ethical standpoint. It is absolutely critical that this process is used to the utmost, to make the case for Tara, while there is still a whisper of time left to save it.

This notice is designed to share that news, and serve as a public consultation, under the laws principles and principles of Agenda 21, and sustainable development, which all public bodies, NGOs and stakeholders in the envionmental arena (including media outlets) are required to follow. Everyone has a stake in this issue, and a right to have their opinions heard. National surveys have shown that 70% of people want the M3 re-routed and an Irish Times survey showed that 82% of people surveyed think Tara should be a UNESCO site. Minister Gormley has responded that he will declare Tara a World Heritage Site, but with the motorway through it. We are campaigning to have UNESCO dcline that offer, and insist that the M3 is re-routed first.

Given the enormity of the issue, and the multiple events that have occurred over the last ten years, in relation to this project, compiling a complete dossier is a mammoth task, particularly when laws like the World Heritage Convention and the National Monuments Acts are applied to those facts, in an attempt to formulate arguments that are coherent. Expert affidavits, and technical reports make the mater all the more challenging. We are lucky to be working with some heritage experts, in this regard, but we need all of the information available, and as much co-operative assistance as possible. Hopefully, like with our successful World Monuments Fund - 100 Most Endangered Sites List nomination, we will get the job done.

The shortage of time in this matter is not our doing. We only received notice yesterday, that this issue would be raised and that we hold stakeholder status. Submissions need to be submitted in time for all the participants in the round table to have time to read and understand them - which is a week before the event, at a minimum. So, we are setting June 21, the Summer Solstice, as our date of submission. In order for us to process third party submissions, and integrate them into our own, we need to receive them at week before then, which brings us back to the 14th of June. So, we have a week to hear from as many people as possible. We are going to schedule a public event very shortly, which will explain the process in detail. In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do if you want to communicate your opinion on this matter to WAC-6, and indeed UNESCO and ICOMOS. If you prefer to stay anonymous, we will pass along the material as we are given it.

1. Please write a concise account
of your opinions and/or experiences, in relation to this the Tara / M3 controversy. Address issues such as:
- why do you consider yourself a stakeholder/ why is Tara important to you?
- what is wrong/right with the M3 motorway, in relation to Tara?
- is this an indigenous rights, religious, philosophical, environmental, political, moral, economic, practical issue for you?
- what specific experiences have you had in relaiton to Tara?
- what specific experiences have you had in relation the authorities?
- what laws do you think apply?
- what solutions are available?
- how did it come to all this?

2. Place your statement into the online petition, as a comment, or mail it to

TaraWatch launched an online petition on Wednesday 4th June 2008, addressed to UNESCO, ICOMOS and WAC-6 attendees. It was designed as a method of trying to raise the Tara issue with the WAC-6 delegates, as we were unaware that we would be invited to make a submission. Now, that peition is going to serve as a key part of our submission. It makes it easy for people to participate, and make their views known.

3. If you feel you want to assist further, there is a lot of work to be done compiling the full dossier. If you are interested in law, the environment, heritage, globalisation etc, and want to play a key role in making the case for Tara, on a world stage, please come and help us.
- please forward this notice to anyone you think might be a stakeholder
- please forward the petition link to all your contacts
- please try and attend the upcoming meeting, which will be noticed on
- please drop a line, and we'll find something for you to do.

Go raibh maith agaibh and thanks for your support!

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