Wednesday, March 05, 2008

If the tearful skies and lugubrious winds of January are weighing upon you like lead, perhaps you would be well advised to counteract the gloom by exploring some of the country's incomparable treasures such as Bru na Bóinne or the Boyne Valley in royal county Meath. Access to the Boyne valley will be greatly improved soon as Rialtas na hÉireann proceeds unashamedly to bury 5000 years of civilisation under stone and concrete, enabling you to drive through the valley of Cnoc na Teamhrach, the Hill of Tara, at your leisure in your C02-loving SUV! Go n'éirí an bóthar leat! But you won't find a more lugubrious site in Ireland than the Boyne Valley in its present state.In spite of a campaign that has become global to reverse the decision to build the M3 motorway through one of the world's wonders, the Government's pertenacious desire to build this road can only be described as downright perverse. Despite the Government's best efforts, demonstrations against the routing of the M3 motorway are continuing. In a recent press release, the Tarawatch campaign revealed that the office of the Taoiseach tried to prevent the demonstrations of the Tarawatch campaign by officially denying them permission. Nevertheless, the demonstration went ahead. In order to symbolise the destruction of our national heritage, the campaigners made a model of the M3 motorway out of cloth and draped it over the Garden of Rememberance in Dublin. Cait O Riardan from the Pogues and Mary Lou Macdonald from Sinn Féin attended the demonstration as guest speakers.In spite of it being named one of the top ten archeological finds of 2007 by Archeology magazine published by the Archeology Institute of America, the Government has obtusely refused to halt the destruction of the Lios an Mhuillean site in the Tara Skryne Valley. The dishonest and disengenuous stance of the Government is attested by the fact that they moved the destruction date for Lissmullen back to December 18 in a surrepticious attempt to avoid conflict with the Tarawatch campaigners. Instead the NRA handed over the site to the construction company SIAC on December 18. Minister for the Environment and Heritage John Gormely will come in for tough questioning from the Tarawatch campaign about this controversial decision to move the handover date back to before Christmas. Speaking at the recent demonstration in the Garden of Rememberane, Mary Lou Macdonald was vociferous in her condemnation of Gormely's position on the Tara valley project.

"The Minister has flouted EU law since he came into office, by refusing to conduct a dew Environmental Impact Assessment on Tara.
"The Green Party Minister for the Environment has completely adopted the Fianna Fail position and rejected demands by Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, to re-assess the damage being done to heritage there." she said.
While Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said:
"Not only is Minister Gormley lying about having the power to order a new assessment, but he appears to have given false information to the public about the date of the transfer of Lismullin, in order to facilitate demolition over the holidays.
"The lawsuit being taken by the European Commission could cost the taxpayer tens of millions of euros in fines, and it is the Minister’s duty to avoid these penalties."
Perhaps 2008 will be a year of introspection for the Government and the average Irish citizen. With the Achilles heal of the Irish economy, namely the construction sector in obvious decline, together with a looming recession in the USA, it is time to take stock of the importance of culture and heritage before it is too late. If nothing else, the Tara Skryne Valley serves to show us that although the life of man is short, nasty and brutish, his wretched sojourn upon the earth is redeemed by the works of art he leaves behind, filling us with wonder and enjoining us to think in the words of Shakespeare's Hamlet that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. Much damage has already been done but if the national monuments that challenge the complacency of the present with the imprint of the past are erased, what will we have to reflect upon, where will we look for answers to the big questions, the questions of our origins, of who we were, who we are and who we might be in the future?

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