New court challenge on Tara

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Wednesday August 29, 2007 22:28author by M. Ni Bhrolchain - Campaign to Save Tara Report this post to the editors

Launched by Campaign to Save Tara

CST launched a new court challenge today in the EU offices - the litigant is Michael Canney, former spokesman for the Campaign.
Here follows a press release, a statement from Michael and a statement of support from our primary poet: Seamus Heaney.
I'm hoping that there will photographs to follow.
Laoise Kelly opened the event with some wonderful Harp Music -
Mary Lou McDonald also came along and spoke



The Campaign to Save Tara today announced details of a legal challenge to the
proposed M3 Motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley in Co. Meath. The Campaign
claims that this case is being taken in the public interest and only after all
other democratic avenues have been exhausted.

In a message of support read out at today’s launch, Seamus Heaney said, “It
could be said that the Campaign to Save Tara is putting its case in ‘the name
of dead generations’: for the past two millennia those generationS regarded Tara
as a place invested with sacred as opposed to secular value. Protest against the
loss of this value remains an imperative.”

At the launch of the legal challenge today were prominent archaeologists Joseph Fenwick and Professor George Eogan, MEP Kathy Sinnott, celebrated author
Morgan Llywelen, as well as members of the Campaign’s legal team. Among the
groups represented were An Taisce and the Meath Archaeological and Historical

The named plaintiff is Michael Canney, a prominent member and former
spokesperson of the Campaign. Among the named defendants are the Minister for
the Environment, the Minister for Transport, the National Roads Authority and
Eurolink Ltd., The consortium awarded the construction and tolling contract.

The action, by means of a plenary summons which was served on the named
defendants last week (see details attached), is seeking a ruling that
construction should be halted on the M3 pending the outcome of a case at present
before the European Court of Justice relating to the Lismullen National

A number of other claims are made including a ruling that the Minister for the
Environment has failed in his duty to protect Irish National Heritage as
required under Article five of the Constitution. Additionally there are a
number of claims relating to the procedures adopted in relation to
Environmental Impact Assessments.

Here is Michael Canney's statement read out at the launch today
Statement by Michael Canney, plaintiff, Save Tara/M3 Legal Case
29th August 2007

It has never been my ambition to put my name forward in a legal challenge, especially a challenge against such a seemingly impregnable array of powerful political and economic forces. I have done so only as a last resort, and only because it is absolutely essential that the silent majority who oppose this road are given a final chance to have their concerns heard before the courts. While the political and commercial backers of this enterprise have seen fit to ignore public opinion up to now – they cannot so easily dismiss the judiciary.

The debate which has raged unevenly between heritage and economics since the Wood Quay protests of the eighties have finally reached its’ nadir at Tara, a low-point that even the most pessimistic among us could not have anticipated. The Tara landscape – the cradle of our civilization, an icon of our nationhood, the mythical heart of our country is to be defaced in the name of private profit and political expediency.

The damage already wrought on the landscape cannot be undone; and the destruction of individual sites over the last six months are individual and collective acts of vandalism. However, the integrity of the landscape as a whole, its stillness and physical beauty are still to be preserved and so this struggle will be conducted by any means and through any mechanism available to the Save Tara Campaign.

No matter how much damage has been done up to this point the road remains totally unacceptable along its present alignment. Over the last few months people say to us ‘but they are going to build it anyway’, or ‘sure isn’t the damage already done’. In reply we argue that this road, like Tara itself is a signifier – a signifier of values and attitudes –this debate embodies not only the value we place on our heritage and history, but also signifies how we might deal with the challenges of an energy-poor future and the massive sociological changes that are necessary in order to meet these challenges.

The placing of economic and sectoral interests, above those of the wider environment and society, is one of the main reasons we find ourselves in the environmental mess we are in. Unregulated and profit-driven property development, both residential and commercial, is the primary cause of the transport crises facing the people of Meath. A shocking fact, little reported in the acres of coverage of this issue is that the route of this road was chosen to increase traffic volumes, and therefore tolling profits. This road is engineered to increase car-dependecy. Could our transport planners possibly get any more cynical and profit-driven?

Our friends and neighbours in the European Union have voiced grave concerns about this motorway. To deal with one specific concern – the Commission have questioned how the Lismullen National Monument, a massive structure over 80 meters in diameter could have been missed during surveying. The EU maintains that, having missed the structure initially, it’s subsequent discovery should automatically lead to a new Environmental Impact Assessment. There would seem to be a prima facia case that the EIA process is inadequate at best. A less benign interpretation is also possible; our summons maintains that in only carrying out a EIA on one route – the so-called ‘preferred route’ through the Valley, the EIA process is actually subsumed to a function of the route selection process, as opposed to an objective basis upon which to decide upon one route as opposed to another.

It is in the public interest that the procedural and legal shortcomings of the M3 debacle be further examined in the courts. It is in the public interest, not only because of the importance of the Tara landscape in and of itself, but also because this private motorway is iconographic of future planning, transport and environmental policy in this country. Who can look at the Dublin Civic offices now and not regret the lost opportunity of a public park; sweeping up from the river Liffey to the Christchurch Cathedral, a potential resource of immeasurable cultural, educational and aesthetic value? At a time of unprecedented prosperity, who can say that the M3 will be anything but a source of bewilderment and regret to future generations?

The preservation of the Tara landscape can our moment of reflection and renewal, a moment when we realised that our environment is a finite resource and also an opportunity to take strength from a proud and ancient past to meet the challenges ahead.
Statement from Seamus Heaney
It could be said that the Campaign to Save Tara is putting its case ‘in the name of the dead generations’: for the past two millennia those generations regarded Tara as a place invested with sacred as opposed to secular value. Protest against the loss of this value remains an imperative.
Fundamentally you are acting for the preservation of dúchas as an aspect of our national life. Dúchas has been defined as ‘inheritance, patrimony; native place or land; connection, affinity or attachment due to descent or long-standing; inherited instinct or natural tendency.’ Even more importantly, however, it is an elevation of these things to what Breandan Ó Doibhlin has called ‘a kind of ideal of the spirit’. It seems to me the Campaign is taking a stand on behalf of that ideal.

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author by Paula Geraghtypublication date Wed Aug 29, 2007 23:33author email mspgeraghty at yahoo dot ieReport this post to the editors

Images (c)

Laoise Kelly who played the harp, a piece by Carolan.
Laoise Kelly who played the harp, a piece by Carolan.

Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcáin
Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcáin

Mary Lou McDonald  MEP and Michael Canney
Mary Lou McDonald MEP and Michael Canney

Michael Canney under the Halo of the EU
Michael Canney under the Halo of the EU

Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcáin and Kathy Sinnott MEP
Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcáin and Kathy Sinnott MEP

author by C Murraypublication date Thu Aug 30, 2007 09:43Report this post to the editors

The campaigns are outside the Gresham at the moment, if anyone wants to come down and support
the Conference attendees within are paying 4 euros for a cup of tea. Some interesting chats with the
director of the Cork NRA. will add in later.

author by W. Finnerty.publication date Thu Aug 30, 2007 18:21Report this post to the editors

It seems to me there was a desperate need (in terms of the "common good" mentioned in the Preamble of our Constitution) for a new challenge in the Republic of Ireland's courts regarding the Hill of Tara / PPP M3 Toll Road issue; and, like a great many other people I suspect, I'm really pleased to see it's now actually happening. Many thanks to all involved.

Not knowing anything of this new challenge at the time, I sent a letter through the registered post to our Chief Justice John L. Murray last Tuesday. Among other things, it outlines a number of very strange aspects of this particular PPP (Public Private Partnership) toll road project: among them the fact that our National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004, which is being used to drive the project forward, is in all probability UNCONSTITUTIONAL (and consequently unlawful).

In support of this view, and as some readers will already know, the following statement emerged from one of Mr Murray's judicial colleagues around the time of the EUROS 600,000 High Court challenge in 2006: "Justice Laffoy (High Court Judge) had stated in her High Court opinion that there was in fact a constitutional imperative' to protect these assets (in the Hill of Tara area)".

In spite of the huge expenditure involved in the 2006 challenge, of both time and money, it appears that no useful progress at all was made regarding the crucially important matter of determining whether or not our National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 is in fact constitutional. I sincerely hope this second try will not leave any such doubts remaining.

Breaking European Union law is bad enough, but violating Bunreacht na hEireann (Constitution of the Republic of Ireland) is much, much worse in my view. Not only does unconstitutional legislation undermine our Constitution, but it also of course undermines the sovereignty of the Republic of Ireland as an independent nation state: the ONLY fully independent Celtic nation state in the world as far as I know.

For anybody interested, a scanned copy of the registered letter I sent to Chief Justice Murray last Tuesday (i.e. August 28th 2007), together with a copy of the associated Post Office receipt, can be viewed at .

Page 1 (of the four-page letter to Chief Justice Murray at the above address) is largely taken up with the truly amazing and growing array of unresolved legal problems I have been saddled with as a direct result of attempting to challenge the constitutionality of our "Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001" (which I believe is almost certainly unconstitutional as well), during the run-up to the General Election in May 2002. The several "extremely serious" Hill of Tara issues (as I see them) appear on pages 3 and 4.

According to the Post Office's Internet "Track & Trace" Service, the above mentioned letter to Chief Justice Murray was successfully delivered yesterday morning (i.e. August 29th 2007).

Related Link:

Please note this is a BACKUP copy made at 1821 on August 30th 2007
which has been stored on the web site.


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