Dear TaraWatch supporters,
Thank you for continuing to support the campaign to save the Hill of Tara from the M3 motorway in Ireland. A lot has happened recently, and we need your help, to keep the voice of opposition to the desecration of Tara alive. As you know, the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, was supposed to submit Tara to UNESCO at the Seville World Heritage Committee meeting in June. This did not occur, but the Minister issued a statement on the matter yesterday, stating he will do it by the end of the year. The Minister also announced the Tara Skryne Landscape conservation programme. However, it still does not even define the area to be protected. It will have no statutory basis, and it quite clearly going to have a motorway going through the middle of it.
Coincidentally, the European Court of Justice is currently hearing arguments in the case being brought against Ireland by the European Commission, over the demolition of the Lismullin National Monument near Tara in 2007, which was discovered in the pathway of the M3 during excavations.
Two key newspaper articles were published today, and we are asking you to write letters to the editors, referencing the articles and making objections to Minister Gormley's actions. TaraWatch is seeking a right of reply, and we hope to reinforce that with your letters. Here are the letters and below is a press release we sent out in response to the Ministers statement. Please also send copies of letters directly to the Minister for the Environment at email@example.com
New rules to protect Tara area
The Irish Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009 - By Olivia Kelly
NEW PROTECTIONS for the Tara-Skryne Valley, which would prevent the construction of retail parks and superstores along the route of the M3, have been announced by Minister for the Environment John Gormley. Mr Gormley said he could not prevent the construction of the motorway near the Hill of Tara, which continues to be the subject of protests by environmental and heritage groups, but he could protect the landscape to prevent inappropriate development.
In conjunction with Meath County Council, Mr Gormley proposed to designate the Tara-Skryne Valley a Special Conservation Area. This would protect the archeological and historic landscape and make it difficult for any construction to take place within the zone. However, Mr Gormley said it would in particular stop the type of large-scale development, such as shopping centres, or retail parks, which have been built along motorways in the past.
“This will ensure that the very negative sort of development associated with motorways will not impinge on the area . . . the sort of motorway development we’ve seen in the past, the BQs, that would not be acceptable.” The plans for the designation, which has been allocated €50,000 funding from the Department of the Environment and the Heritage Council, will have to be submitted for public consultation and agreed by Meath county councillors before the designation is confirmed. It is likely that the protection will be in place by the middle of next year. Mr Gormley said he also intended to increase the protection for national monuments in the new National Monument’s Act, which is currently at draft stage.
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Shops and malls to be banned at historic Tara site
Irish Independent - Saturday July 18 2009 - By Paul Melia
MAJOR developments including shopping centres and retail parks will not be allowed to be built off the controversial M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara. The Tara Skryne Valley, one of the most archaeologically rich areas in the country, will be officially designated as a Landscape Conservation Area, which will ban major developments and ensure the landscape is left intact, Environment Minister John Gormley announced yesterday. And he said he was fully committed to nominating the Hill of Tara as a UNESCO World Heritage site when Ireland draws up its shortlist of sites at the end of the year. He added that a new National Monuments Act would mean that road developments would not take place in areas rich with archaeology.
"I am pleased to announce details in relation to a proposed new landscape management project which has been initiated to establish a Landscape Conservation Area in the Tara-Skryne area," he said. "The new landscape conservation zone for Tara Skryne will protect the area from development damage . . . This is the first landscape conservation area ever. We have to learn lessons from the past, there's no question mistakes have been made and mistakes must be rectified."
The National Monuments Act will also see a single Register of Monuments established instead of historic monuments being recorded on a number of lists, and improved recognition of and protection for archaeology under planning legislation. Chairman of the Heritage Council, Conor Newman, added that the legislation would close "serious weaknesses" in the law. "For those of us who spent years trying to protect Tara, the work (M3) exposed serious weaknesses in our legislation," he said. "Protecting the landscape is something we want to see. No one wants to freeze the landscape, just manage change." The landscape conservation area status will be made next year when the exact zone of protection will be identified.
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The TaraWatch USA Facebook group already has 2,000 members, after only one week. It is a part of the global Save Tara campaign, being operated by on Facebook by TaraWatch, which has over 13,000 members.
The aim of the group is to hold a demonstration outside the UN building in New York Sity, and to submit a petition to the UN, asking for intervention on the Tara issue.
The proposal is to take an aerial photograph of a couple of thousand people in front of the building, wearing green or spelling a slogan, such as was done at Tara in 2007 with the human harp.
The date of the event is not confirmed, but we are aiming to do it during Heritage Week in Ireland, part of European Heritage Days, 22nd to the 30th of August 2009.
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