Motorway plans spell disasterfor Hill of Tara

THE Hill of Tara constitutes the heart and soul of Ireland. Our ceremonial and mythical capital, its very name invokes the spirit and mystique of our people, and is instantly recognisable worldwide.

An Bord Pleanála's approval of the Government's scheme to divide the Tara/Skryne valley with the M3 motorway spells out a massive national and international tragedy that must be averted.

This narrow valley is one of the most culturally and archaeologically significant places in the world. Many monuments predate the Egyptian pyramids. The chamber within Tara's mound of the hostages is perfectly aligned with the full moon of Lughnasa and the rising sun of Samhain and Imbolg.

The Hill of Tara has been a sanctuary for every generation since. It is precisely because it has remained intact that it holds a special key to understanding the continuous progression of European civilisation.

We are only just beginning to understand how the mound relates to other monuments in this archaeological complex, many of which will be destroyed if the valley is sliced in two.

The Hill of Skryne, containing the 12th-century Skryne Castle, is also a national monument and an early religious and ritual centre. Both Tara and Skryne are part of the same cultural and natural landscape of the Boyne Valley and cannot be separated from the River Boyne, or from each other.

Every effort should be made to preserve national monuments in situ, according to stated Government policy, and the Council of Europe's Valetta Convention, to which Ireland is a signatory.

The Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, signed by Ireland in Paris, in 1972, resolved to protect parts of the cultural or natural heritage that are of outstanding universal value and therefore need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole. Tara warrants UNESCO protection.

We call on the Government, particularly the Taoiseach, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to review this decision and choose one of the many options still available.

In the alternative, we ask our public servants to place these viable options before the Irish nation, openly and democratically, and let Irish taxpayers decide for themselves if their money should be spent destroying this singular element of Irish identity.

To date, more than 1,600 people, including leading academics in the fields of archaeology and history,have signed our online petition at www.petitiononline.com/hilltara.

Vincent Salafia

Save Tara/Skryne Valley Campaign

PO Box 30

Tara

Co Meath

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