The destruction of the Hill of Tara valley was “cultural vandalism akin to ripping a knife through a Rembrandt”, the Dublin parliament has heard during a bitter debate about a proposed new motorway.
Labour’s Emmet Stagg said it was a fact that the road “will destroy the most valuable archaeological, literary and historical site in the country, revered all over the world”.
He quoted Irish emigrants who expressed their “horror and disbelief” on an electronic petition organised by the Save the Tara- Skryne Valley Group. One asked: “Are you really going to send millions of tyres over the graves of the high kings?”
He described the Hill of Tara as “as much a symbol of our national identity as the Tricolour.
“It dates back 6,000 years and during most of that period it has been used as the major sacred site in the country.”
Mr Stagg called on the Taoiseach to “declare himself as a man of cultural understanding who has the courage to be the ‘Taoiseach’ in the real sense of the word - the leader or chief who defends Tara from its latest invaders”.
He was speaking on the second night of the debate about the M3 motorway through the Tara-Skryne Valley.
Sinn Féin’s Arthur Morgan pointed out that motorists from Cavan would be tolled three times from Cavan to Navan, Navan to Dublin and then the “modern highwaymen” would toll them again at the M50.
The Green party’s Eamon Ryan (Green, Dublin South) warned that no matter how wide they built the motorway, it would lead to traffic lights on approach to the M50, and “they’re going to queue there and block up there for the same four hours that they’re waiting at the moment. On pure transport terms this is madness and needs to be stopped.”
The Labour Party, in a Private Members’ motion, called for the Government to discontinue the plans for the M3 route. The motion was defeated by 66 votes to 58.