Thursday, July 02, 2009

Opposition TDs and Senators Pledge to Challenge Government Over M3 Motorway

Maureen O'Sullivan TD (Ind) takes Parliamentary Questions from Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch, with Aengus O Snodaigh (left) and Martin Ferris (Sinn Fein) behind


‘Opposition TDs and Senators Pledge to Challenge Government Over M3 Motorway’

A delegation of approximately 30 TaraWatch members met with Opposition TDs and Senators at the Kildare Street gates of the Dail today, at 1.00 pm. They were handed a series of Parliamentary Questions, for the Ministers for Transport, Environment and Finance, relating to the EU and UNESCO issues at the Hill of Tara. They also asked Oireachtas members to demand a halt to the M3 works at Tara until the European Commission case against Ireland, currently being heard in the European Court of Justice, reaches a decision.

Maureen O’Sullivan, the Independent TD who won the late Tony Gregory’s Dail set in the by-election, said:

“I am happy to meet you and hear your concerns. Deputy Gregory was very much opposed to the M3 at Tara, and made many statements against it.”

Fine Gael Meath TD, Shane McEntee, said:

“Fine Gael is opposed to the tolling of the M3, but we are in favour of jobs for Meath.” When it was pointed out by Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch that a re-routing of the M3 motorway, which could be order by UNESCO, would result in more jobs Meath, he laughed and agreed.

Labour Party TD, Joanna Tuffy, promised to submit Parliamentary Questions and said:

“I am very much in favour of the UNESCO designation of Tara, and will ask Mr Gormley why he delayed submitting the nomination to UNESCO at the Meeting in Seville last week, as promised.

Sinn Fein sent three deputies, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Arthur Morgan and Martin Ferris to met the TaraWatch delegation. Aengus O Snodaigh said:

“Sinn Fein will submit all of the Parliamentary Questions. We remain absolutely opposed the destruction of Tara by the Government and the private companies.

Senator David Norris also offered his support, and complimented the delegation on their commitment. Though he cannot submit Parliamentary Questions as a Senator, he promised to use the materials in other ways, and raise the issue in the Seanad at the soonest opportunity.

However, Green Party TD, Ciaran Cuffe, who had been a strong vocal opponent to the M3 at Tara snubbed the delegation and walked by without comment.

TaraWatch spokesperson Laura Grealish said:

“We are delighted with obvious concern in the Oireachtas over the the Tara M3 issue, and look forward to getting answer to our questions from the Government. We will be continuing to campaign on the issue by making an appeal to the UN during the upcoming visit of the UN Secretary General to Ireland.


Brussels takes Ireland to court over Lismullen monument

Meath Chronicle: Wednesday, 1st July, 2009 By Ann Casey

The Government is in the dock in Europe this week over the demolition of a newly discovered national monument at Lismullen in 2007, which occurred during works on the M3 motorway. The European Commission is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice and the case opened last week with the Commission arguing that the decision taken by former Environment Minister, Dick Roche, in 2007 to demolish the newly discovered national monument was contrary to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive, which requires independent scientific opinion and public participation.

The Commission says that the National Monuments Act fails to implement the Directive by automatically requiring a new EIA when a national monument is discovered, which was not covered by planning permission. Because the pre-historic site at Lismullen was only identified in 2007, its significance could not be taken into account in a 2003 assessment of the motorway project. Meanwhile, TaraWatch will hold a demonstration outside Dail Eireann at 1pm today (Wednesday) to demand that the Government halt work on the M3 within the Hill of Tara landscape due to the lawsuit.

A number of questions will also be handed to opposition party Oireachtas members at the Dail gates. The questions will be addressed to Ministers for the Environment, Transport and Finance and will query why the Government demolished the Lismullin national monument and why Minister John Gormley opposed the Environment Directive. They are also querying what the financial implications would be if Ireland loses the case. TaraWatch will also ask Opposition parties to join in an appeal to UN Secretary General General Ban Ki-moon for intervention during his upcoming visit to Ireland on next week.

TaraWatch spokesperson, Vincent Salafia, said: “The Government and the public private partners have acted recklessly by proceeding with the M3 and demolishing the Lismullin national monument, despite the statement by the European Commission in 2007 that they were acting in breach of EU law. “Works on the M3 in the Tara landscape and proposed World Heritage Site should cease, until the case being argued this week in the European Court of Justice reaches a conclusion.” Mr Salafia said that enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money was being wasted by the Government in fighting this case, and the consequences of a decision against Ireland could be disastrous. “We are calling on the Opposition parties to take the Government to task on this and to support our appeal to the UN to intervene in this matter,” he said.

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