Irish Republican News · March 16, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Court setback for Save Tara campaign

An environmentalist has had legal costs of up to 600,000 Euros (Stg413,000) awarded against him after he lost his court challenge against the routing of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.

The Hill of Tara is Ireland’s ancient ceremonial capital,and the backdrop for much of Irish mythology.

The narrow valley is considered one of the most culturally and archaeologically significant places in the world, with monuments predating the Egyptian pyramids.

Although largely unexplored, the Hill of Tara has remained intact, unlike many comparable European sites.

Campaigners have been disputing a 14 kilometre section of the planned 62km M3 motorway, which is scheduled to run alongside the former seat of the kings.

In his 60 page judgement, Mr. Justice Thomas Smyth described Mr. Salafia’s case as ‘unfounded’. He also said there was no justifiable excuse for the delay in bringing these proceedings.

Mr Salafia had saught to overturn directions issued by Minister Dick Roche last year in relation to the treatment of 38 archaeological sites along the route.

The Dublin man urged the Ministry for Transport to move the planned highway through an alternative route 5km away, which he said was an legally, economically and environmentally advantageous solution to the current route.

The judge agreed with the State’s argument that the Tara archaeological sites did not constitute a national monument under the law.

Vincent Salafia said he was facing the prospect of bankruptcy in the wake of Judge Thomas Smyth’s ruling at the High Court.

“If I don’t pay up fairly quickly, they will bring bankruptcy proceedings against me. It obviously will be a huge factor in my ability to own or direct a corporation.

“It will affect my ability to make a living, to provide for my family, so really it’s basically a very punitive judgment.”

Mr Salafia said he would appeal to the Supreme Court. He said the costs might not be awarded against him if his appeal was successful.

The environmental campaigner, from Dodder Vale, Churchtown in Dublin, said he had taken the action on public interest grounds and that there was no personal gain involved.

“A national survey last year showed that 70 per cent of Irish people were against the route of this road and wanted this road rerouted,” he said.

In the High Court, Judge Smyth said he did not accept that Mr Salafia had been acting in the public interest.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News