PQs Reveal a startling contempt for Irish heritage

Published: Fri 10 Jul 2009 12:08 PM
9 July 2009
'PQs Reveal "a startling contempt for Irish heritage, as well as for European and UN law"'
Responses to a series of 30 Parliamentary Questions (PQs), submitted to Ministers for the Environment, Transport and Finance, by Labour and Sinn Fein, have been made. The PQs, relating to the Hill of Tara and the M3 motorway, were delivered to last week by a TaraWatch delegation to the Oireachtas.
The questions related to:
- The delay by the Minister for the Environment in nominating the Hill of Tara as a World Heritage Site
- The delay by the Minister for the Environment in amending the National Monuments Act
- The possible implications for the Ministers for Transport of case being brought against Ireland in the European Court of Justice over the demolition of the Lismullin national monument at Tara
- The reasons why the Minister for Finance has not subjected the National Development Plan to Strategic Environmental Assessment, as recommended by the European Commission.
TaraWatch spokesperson, Vincent Salafia, said the group found the responses by the Ministers as “completely unacceptable”. "The answers reveal a startling contempt for Irish heritage, as well as for European and UN law, and show the Government has been systematically preventing the European Commission and UNESCO from protecting Tara and other important Irish cultural sites."
The Minister for the Environment revealed that he began the process of nominating the Hill of Tara as a UENSCO site in December 2007. Yet, Tara will not now be nominated until July 2010, two and a half years later.
“It seems Minister Gormley has been delaying the UNESCO nomination on purpose, in order to facilitate the completion of the M3 first.”
“Minister Gormley’s inaction has effectively prevented UNESCO from seeking a solution to the Tara problem, and we believe that is a violation of his legal duties to the people of Ireland, and to the global community.”
Minister Gormley’s response to another PQ also revealed that the amendment of the National Monuments Act, which Gormley had promised to deliver last summer, will be over a year late.
Mr Salafia said:
“Minister Gormley could also have drafted legislation to protect Tara, as part of the new National Monuments Act, but he has also delayed that process by over a year.
TaraWatch also disputes the facts given by Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, in his response. The Minister claims that the Navan to Dublin railway preferred route is 7km to the west of Tara.
Mr Salafia said:
“The railway route is less than 2km away from Tara, and it passes through the Tara complex, and the proposed World Heritage Site.”
Finally, TaraWatch does not accept the answer given by Minister for Finance that the NDP and Transport 21 does not need to be subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment.
Mr Salafia said:
“The European Commission has stated that the NDP should be subject to SEA, and we agree.
“SEA would mean proper cost-benefit analysis and independent environmental testing, as well as public participation in decision-making in major infrastructure plans, which has never been performed.
“If the NDP was put through SEA we wouldn’t have a toll road, a railway and power lines set to take three different routes through a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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