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Brussels takes Ireland to court over Lismullen monument

Story by Ann Casey

Wednesday, 1st July, 2009 10:05am

The Government is in the dock in Europe this week over the demolition of a newly discovered national monument at Lismullen in 2007, which occurred during works on the M3 motorway.

The European Commission is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice and the case opened last week with the Commission arguing that the decision taken by former Environment Minister, Dick Roche, in 2007 to demolish the newly discovered national monument was contrary to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive, which requires independent scientific opinion and public participation.

The Commission says that the National Monuments Act fails to implement the Directive by automatically requiring a new EIA when a national monument is discovered, which was not covered by planning permission.

Because the pre-historic site at Lismullen was only identified in 2007, its significance could not be taken into account in a 2003 assessment of the motorway project. Meanwhile, TaraWatch will hold a demonstration outside Dail Eireann at 1pm today (Wednesday) to demand that the Government halt work on the M3 within the Hill of Tara landscape due to the lawsuit.

A number of questions will also be handed to opposition party Oireachtas members at the Dail gates. The questions will be addressed to Ministers for the Environment, Transport and Finance and will query why the Government demolished the Lismullin national monument and why Minister John Gormley opposed the Environment Directive.

They are also querying what the financial implications would be if Ireland loses the case.

TaraWatch will also ask Opposition parties to join in an appeal to UN Secretary General General Ban Ki-moon for intervention during his upcoming visit to Ireland on next week.

TaraWatch spokesperson, Vincent Salafia, said: 'The Government and the public private partners have acted recklessly by proceeding with the M3 and demolishing the Lismullin national monument, despite the statement by the European Commission in 2007 that they were acting in breach of EU law.

'Works on the M3 in the Tara landscape and proposed World Heritage Site should cease, until the case being argued this week in the European Court of Justice reaches a conclusion.'

Mr Salafia said that enormous amounts of taxpayers" money was being wasted by the Government in fighting this case, and the consequences of a decision against Ireland could be disastrous. 'We are calling on the Opposition parties to take the Government to task on this and to support our appeal to the UN to intervene in this matter,' he said.

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