Clashes at Tara protest
Clashes at Tara protest

Five people who are protesting against the M3 motorway being routed through the historic Hill of Tara site in Meath have been arrested.

There have been reports of clashes between construction workers and protestors in a generally escalating situation at the main construction site near Blundelstown, County Meath.

Protesters angry at the destruction of one of western Europe’s pre-eminent archaeological sites have been present along the route at various times in recent weeks in a growing campaign.

Campaigners have said they are “inflamed” by the Green Party’s election pact with Fianna Fail to agree to the M3 motorway project and the announcement by Environment Minister John Gormley that the Government will not re-route the road despite Euopean criticism.

A spokesman for the Eurolink road construction company said he feared the situation on the M3 construction site is becoming “more and more dangerous every day”.

Members of the Tarawatch group said up to 60 protesters were at the site at Soldier Hill on the northern slope of the Hill of Tara, where work is underway on the interchange.

A spokeswoman for the protesters said they had been trying to block diggers and bulldozers when one person was “thrown to the ground” by a group of about five construction workers. Another person had his hand hurt, she said.

The Tarawatch spokeswoman called for a moratorium on all work on the M3 until a full investigation of the route was undertaken by the European Commission.

Tarawatch has opposed the current route from the outset, but has called on the Minister for the Environment to halt work following the discovery of a previously unknown national monument at Lismullin and the destruction of another site at Baronstown two weeks ago.

Bulldozers razed the Baronstown site in the early hours of the morning to allow construction work to continue.

The site, a 4000-year-old bronze age settlement described as a “multi-period archaeological complex”, was destroyed when earth movers stripped the site at about 4am.

“That they are destroying our heritage under cover of darkness says it all,” campaigner Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolchain said.

The road construction has shown that Tara is a more extensive site than was previously believed and more monuments which would normally bee accorded international heritage status will be destroyed.

Irish progressives were stunned when the new Environment Minister and newly-elected Green Party leader, John Gormley, reversed his position upon taking office and declared he was “powerless” to prevent the historic sites from being destroyed.

The European Commission is investigating whether aspects of the road may be in breach of EU law, but Mr Gormley has not stopped work while talks continue with European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas.

Last week, Tara campaigners held a series of demonstrations in three different countries.

TaraWatch held protests outside Leinster House in Dublin and the Irish Embassy in London, while there were also protests in New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Darren Delahunty, one of the organisers of the London protest, said: “Irish people in the UK are outraged at the refusal of the Irish authorities to try and proceed with the road, even when the public are so against it.”

A “Love Tara” protest march will be held in Dublin on Saturday, July 21st at 1pm, which will go from the Garden of Remembrance to Custom House, the headquarters of the Department of the Environment.

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