The High Court in Dublin has ruled against the constitutional challenge to the south Dublin portion of the South Eastern Motorway at the archaeologically sensitive Carrickmines Castle.
Ms Justice Laffoy delivered the ruling against the arguments presented by Dublin conservationist Mr Dominic Dunne at the High Court in Dublin, clearing the way for the work to continue.
Carrickmines Castle, which had been the scene of conflict and turbulence on the pass to and from the Wicklow Mountains since the 13th century, had been seen the scene of a number of sit-in protests. But despite the protests and a lengthy legal battle, the site had already been heavily damaaged by construction workers prior to today's ruling.
Mr Dunne claimed part of the National Monuments Amendment Act, 2004, a bill specifically intended to facilitate the work, was unconstitutional and contrary to EU directives.
Section 8 of the Act, which was introduced earlier this summer, allowed for the partial demolition and removal of the ruins of Carrickmines Castle to allow for the construction of the South Eastern Motorway - the final link in Dublin's M50 bypass.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council was ordered to stop work on the controversial M50 route on August 19th to facilitate a full High Court hearing into the legality of the new heritage legislation.
The Council said this evening that work will now resume on the site tomorrow morning.
Mr Dunne admitted he was disappointed with the decision but insisted the action was never taken to block the M50 motorway but as a protest against the Government's ``anti-heritage legislation''.
The Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe called on the Minister for the Environment to ensure that the damage caused by the construction of the motorway is kept to a minimum.
Mr Cuffe said the planning of the M50 junction at Carrickmines was flawed from the start and claimed that ``from mysterious land deals to inexplicable design changes this has been a fiasco from the outset.''
He also condemned the National Monuments Act as a ``flawed act.'' He pointed out that it had been rushed through parliament and contained ``a dangerous consolidation of power into the hands of the Minister whilch he claimed allowed him to ``act as judge, jury and executioner of our heritage.''
Mr Cuffe said the Green Party hoped the legislation would not be used by Minister Cullen to build other projects ``at the expense of our heritage.''
Deputy Cuffe also said he hoped Mr Dunne would not be pursued for costs as the case ``was a public interest case.''
TARA IN LINE OF FIRE
Meanwhile, archaeologists have uncovered 26 new sites in the Tara-Skryne valley in County Meath where the proposed M3 motorway is to be routed.
Tara, near the ancient passage-tombs of Newgrange and Knowth, is the ancient royal capital of Ireland and the gathering point of the Irish high kings, but has remained largely unexcavated.
Among the more significant finds along the 15-kilometre stretch between Dunshaughlin and Navan are three large enclosed settlement sites or medieval farmsteads, four prehistoric burial sites and one Bronze Age house.
A range of other archaeological features were also found including a medieval house and field system, two pit kilns and several prehistoric burnt mounds.
The foundations of five early modern houses including a post office and a cottage dating from the early 19th century were also uncovered.
It brings to 35 the number of sites of archaeological significance in the path of the motorway, excluding the extended site of the Hill of Tara and its environs.
A number of groups have already threatened legal action if the NRA proceeds with excavations in the Tara-Skryne valley for the proposed M3 motorway.
owever, today's ruling is expected to quickly overcome such objections and facilitate a fast-track motorway construction.