Tara ‘henge’ will be destroyed – claim
Tim O’Brien, Irish Times
Thu, May 03, 2007
Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has already issued draft directions that would allow for the destruction of the recently discovered “henge” along the route of the M3 in Co Meath, it was claimed yesterday.
The environmental group TaraWatch said Mr Roche had sent draft directions to the National Museum to preserve the henge “by record”, a process that would facilitate photographs and written records being made before the henge is removed.
Under Section 14A of the National Monuments Act 2004, if a national monument is discovered, the Minister is required to consult the director of the National Museum before deciding on what action to take.
Mr Roche told The Irish Times yesterday that he was in consultation with the National Museum, but he declined to elaborate on the nature of that consultation. Asked if he had sent draft directions to the museum to preserve the monument by record, as claimed by TaraWatch, Mr Roche repeated that he was “in consultation with the National Museum” and referred to his department’s previously issued comments on the discovery.
On Tuesday the department said: “The Minister has consulted with the director of the museum on the directions that would be most appropriate in this instance from the point of view of best archaeological practice. Directions will issue as soon as possible after the Minister receives the director’s response.
“The Minister is advised that the surviving elements of the monument are extremely fragile, underlining the need for an early decision on how to proceed.”
TaraWatch spokesman Vincent Salafia said the group had “well-placed sources within the National Museum” who were aware of draft directions that had been sent, which instructed that the monument be preserved by record.
Dr Mark Clinton, chairman of An Taisce’s national monuments and antiquities committee, said: “The discovery of what could be called a temple, after the fashion of a comparable discovery at Emain Macha, seat of the kings of Ulster, is of obvious major significance. Such sites are extremely rare.” He called for full scientific excavation to be followed by reconstruction.
Labour Party environment spokesman Ã‰amon Gilmore said the issue could have been avoided if the Government had accepted a November 2004 proposal that the M3 be developed immediately in three sections, “and that the controversial section, running through the Skryne Valley, be rerouted”.
Fine Gael transport spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell has said she was “stunned” to learn that “more than 500 archaeologists, hired at a cost of â‚¬30 million, managed to miss a four-acre historical site while excavating for the new M3 motorway”.
Â© 2007 The Irish Times