Glen protestors face jail
For 12 years now, environmental protestors at the Glen of the Downs in County Wicklow have campaigned to save the scenic woodland from road development. To the admiration of thousands of supporters, the protest has foiled the efforts of Wicklow County Council to destroy the Glen. The beautiful trees in the Glen of the Downs are still standing, but only just.
When the Supreme Court decided against the defenders of the Glen before Christmas, the situation had reached an impasse, into which the Minister of Heritage stepped before Christmas with a public order barring people from the Glen. ``A ridiculous move, because the place cannot be sealed off precisely because the N11 goes straight through it,'' comments one of the campaigners.
No one, of course, obeyed the order. If anything, it encouraged supporters of the protestors to visit the Glen over the Christmas period. Thousands came by to express their solidarity and offer help to the campaign.
Four Supreme Court judgements later, Wicklow County Council officials still refuses to talk to the campaigners about alternatives for safety on the N11 highway, or to even consider experts' advice, or the campaiogners' plan for the Glen to be treated under the village protection scheme.
Last Monday, Judge Donoghue brought a few protestors to his court and warned them that if they ignored the injunction against them he would send them to prison.
Meanwhile, Patricia McKenna has taken the issue to the EU, asking Brussels to halt the spoliation of an area which would have been listed as a special conservation area, had Síle de Valera submitted the selected areas for scheduling as required by EU regulations under the Natura 2000 programme. The government's failure to do this, since 1995, has led to a threat from the EU that it will cease the payment of monies under structural funds.
Meanwhile Wicklow County Manager Blaise Treacy, an implacable opponent of the Glen protestors, in the face of an escalating waste management crisis in the county, where all the Wicklow bin men have taken industrial action over the Council's plan to privatise waste collection, has decided to resign. It leaves Hubert Fitzpatrick, acting county manager, to deal with the increasing conflict in the county between people and council management with the elected councillors wavering in between.
The Glen protestors are in court again on Monday next 31 January, at 11 am. The campaign asks people to come to support them.