Meeting Sought With Lord Hankey

Published: Tue 24 Feb 2009 12:34 PM
Meeting Sought With Lord Hankey, Chairman of Minister Gormley's Advisory Group
TaraWatch has written today to the 'independent' Expert Advisory Panel appointed by Minister Gormley to oversee the revision of Ireland's Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in order to request a meeting with Lord Hankey, Chairman of the Panel.
Lord Hankey is President of the United Kingdom chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), who has no expertise in Irish sites. He is also Chairman of GHK International Limited (UK), private consultants in environment, governance, social policy, ports & logistics, and economic development.
It is understood that Lord Hankey travelled to Ireland from the United Kingdom last week, and visited the Hill of Tara to inspect the site and the M3 motorway construction works.
TaraWatch have grave concerns regarding both the M3 motorway's impact of the Hill of Tara, which we would like to explain to the Chairman. Many of these concerns were expressed in our first submission, made to the Panel on 30 January, 2009.
Our basic stance is that the panel must recommend that the M3 Motorway is moved now, before Tara is declared a World Heritage Site, so as to avoid the Stonehenge scenario, where UNESCO are currently demanding that the UK Government spend one billion pounds to move the roads away from the site.
However, we have have a number of questions for the Chairman, regarding the nomination of the Hill of Tara, and the methodology being used in picking sites, as well as the public consultation process that is supposed to be under way.
The public consultation is due to end on 31 March, according to the panel. However, there have been no public workshops or educational events, and requests for information have not been responded to.
TaraWatch has already questioned the panel's independence, since almost half of the sixteen members are from the Department of the Environment, and there are no members from the National Museum, Failte Ireland or the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.
A spokesperson for TarWatch said:
"The public consultation that is supposed to be under way, reviewing Ireland's proposed UNESCO site, is non-existent, and we are being given no information on how to proceed.
"Our written requests for information have not been responded to, and we are seeking a meeting with Lord Hankey himself.
"We believe the panel is not independent, and the Director of the National Museum has been intentionally excluded due to his previous criticism of the M3 motorway at Tara."

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