An Bord Pleanála to consider Meath Electricity interconnector plan

March 10, 2009

An Bord Pleanála will today begin a hearing on Eirgrid’s proposals for a 500 megawatt electricity interconnector between Ireland and the UK.

It is proposed that the high voltage line would connect to the UK national grid at Deeside in north Wales and come ashore at Rush in Co Dublin.

The line would then run underground along the road network to Woodland in Co Meath.

Local people have expressed concern on health grounds with large-scale protests taking place in 2008.



Department of Finance Internal Memo Proposes Merger of Ireland’s Main National Galleries

August 6, 2008

The Department of Finance recently suggested Ireland’s three main art galleries could be merged into one as part of the Government plan to “rationalise” Government services.

Correspondence from the Department of Arts, as seen by The Irish Times , revealed that the possibility of the merger of the National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) and the Crawford Gallery in Cork was considered. The proposal arose as part of a “brainstorming exercise” within the Department of Finance which included the galleries in a list of agencies that might be suitable to be merged or subsumed into others.

The suggestion has been confirmed by a spokesman from the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism who stated that the issue has not yet been the subject of serious discussion. Senior officials have immediately reassurred the galleries that Finance’s suggestion had yet to be examined in detail.

Crawford Gallery Director Peter Murray said pooling certain functions could be beneficial. However, he said he could see no economic advantage or savings from merging the three galleries into one entity.

“I do not think there would be any sensible need to coalesce the three major cultural institutions into one unit. I could not see that working very well. Would the National Gallery have authority over the Crawford or vice versa?

“Members of the board are not paid for their participation. These are people who have given their time . . . There would not be any economic saving by [the galleries] coalescing.” Mr Murray said it was not at the board level but in other areas where savings could be achieved.

Murray stated that there should be greater integration of human resources and legal services, as well as the galleries using their combined bargaining power when advertising or when launching campaigns.

The Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) Enrique Juncosa is away at present. A spokeswomen said that it was aware that the possible amalgamation of the three galleries had been raised. “Imma has been given to understand that no decisions whatsoever have been taken with regard to this suggestion. As with all other State-funded agencies, the museum would obviously have to be prepared to consider any proposal that would be brought forward as a result of Government policy.” The gallery has not  received any communication about this matter from the department.


Harry McGee, Political Staff, Irish Times –

New Landscape Guidelines for the Tara Skryne Valley are Meaningless

July 31, 2008

A  project to protect the landscape and improve planning decisions nationally is to be piloted in the Tara Skryne valley, Co Meath. It will be carried out by the Heritage Council in conjunction with Meath County Council, who will develop a landscape management plan and designate a landscape conservation area.

Initial funding of €25,000 is being provided by the Heritage Council and the local authority. Further funding is expected from the Department of the Environment next year. The end cost is expected to be about €125,000.

The project will begin in the autumn and is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months, by which time the Highway will be completed. It will examine current and potential land use and develop a plan for the area. The project will have community input and will be led by Meath county council. It is unclear what is meant by “community input,” given the Irish Government’s record in implementing its own laws and regulations with regard to developments which it favours.

In Corrib, to give one relevant example, the Department of the Environment has granted permission to the Shell Oil to construct a key section of onshore pipeline without approval from An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.

Shell EP Ireland and its consultants RPS had said earlier this summer that the entire onshore section would be submitted to An Bord Pleanála under the new fast-tracking legislation, apart from two estuary crossings which are regarded as “marine” and come under the Foreshore Act.

However, the Department of the Environment has stated that a high-pressure section at the Glengad landfall which runs under Dooncarton Mountain, location of a 2003 landslide, and across a public beach used by locals and tourists is “exempted” from planning approval under the Planning and Development Act 2000. Clearly, the Government is quite willing to exempt multinational corporations from planning procedures in order to facilitate the opening up of Ireland’s resources to exploitation.

In the Tara / Skryne Valley, the Lismullen Monument, which was a designated National Monument, is to be buried underneath the M3 Highway. The 2004 National Monuments Act grants the Minister for the Environment the right to order a monument’s demolition after an excavation.  Since the Lismullen Monument was undiscovered (according to the official story) until shortly before the offical commencement of works at the Highway, it is a fair bet that there are other monuments, which lie undiscovered around the Tara – Skrene Valley. These will be excavated, and demolished in their turn, to open up the Tara / Skrene Valley to whatever form of development is planned for the valley.

Heritage Council chief executive Michael Starrett described the landscape project as an important step towards the realisation of a national landscape strategy. “Landscape management is about accommodating change and development. It provides a much more holistic approach than the current model, to planning how we manage and develop the landscape where we live. It enables local communities to play an essential role in managing their own area, and has been very successful when introduced in other European countries.”

He said the project was about finding a successful model that could be applied to special landscapes across the State and another pilot was planned for the Burren, details of which will be announced later in the year.Separate studies published last year by the Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland concluded there was an urgent need for clear guidelines on land use.

The studies also found that Ireland was the only country in Western Europe that had not specifically legislated for managing landscape on a national level. It is unclear whether the Heritage Council scheme will substitute for such legislation, or whether legislation will follow as a result. If there is no legislation, then the Heritage Council guidelines are not legally binding. According to Tarawatch, the Heritage Council recommended in 2002 that a national programme of Landscape Characterisation be undertaken. Draft guidelines prepared by the Department of Environment on landscape characterisation, which would have prevented this entire controversy, have been in circulation since 2000, and are only now being implemented. The essentials of this Tara Management Plan were urged by Mr. Starrett, at the Oireachtas Environment Committee in 2004, long before the public-private partnership contract for the highway was signed, and the decision to build the M3 in the middle of the landscape could have been easily altered. In fact, many of the same protections were already written into the two previous Meath County Development Plans, and have never enforced by Meath County Council. As a result, this announcement is a fine piece of publi relations, without meaning or operative substance.


*Skellig Michael Update* UNESCO Report Finds Dramatic Alteration in Appearance of South Peak remains at Skellig Michael

July 9, 2008

A UNESCO report on State management of the world heritage site at Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast has found that conservation works have “dramatically altered” the appearance of surviving remains on its South Peak.

However, the 6th century monastic outpost will still retain its “outstanding universal values” intact if the conservation work is documented in an academic publication, the Unesco mission report has found.

The report, due to be released today by the Unesco World Heritage Committee in Quebec, Canada, has been welcomed by Minister for the Environment John Gormley. The first 10-year management plan for Skellig Michael is being published today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Evidence of Kale Planting at Rath Maeve and Tractor Damage at Colvonstown, near Hill of Tara

July 5, 2008

” Rath Maeve, M.143, is a large circular rath and a protected national monument close to Tara. It was the mythological home of Maeve, the old earth goddess and consort of successive kings of Tara. As such it has a central place in our heritage and should be afforded all the respect and care it deserves. However yesterday when we visited it we were shocked to see that the entire rath has been planted with Kale. This involved it been ploughed up, planted and it is to be expected, later harvested. Kale is a deep growing vegetable with a long tap root. The harvesting will entail soil disturbance to a dept of at least half a metre. As far as we know no archeologically investigation has taken place on Rath Maeve and no archaeologist was present at the ploughing so priceless items belonging to our history and heritage could have been removed or destroyed. It is known and accepted that this happened in the past and much of what was of value under our soil was destroyed or carried away. That this is again happening today and under a green environment minister beggars belief.
See the rest of this article at:

John Farrelly – Independent Tara Campaigner Wed Jul 02, 2008

Tara Landowners will reap the benefits of the M3 Highway

May 19, 2008

Developers who are also financial supporters of the Fianna Fáil party are likely to reap a fortune from the completion of the controversial M3 highway through the Tara / Skrene Valley near the Hill of Tara.

A company controlled by multi-millionaire builder Joseph Murphy Jr – whose main business, JMSE, was exposed as corrupt the by Flood tribunal – owns valuable lands along the route.

Multi-millionaire Fianna Fáil contributor Cathal McCarthy, formerly a business partner of Frank Dunlop, the former government press secretary, and of Des Richardson, a former fundraiser for the Fianna Fail party also owns land along the proposed highway.

Both Mr Murphy and Mr McCarthy will make millions from the sale of land needed for the highway.

But Mr Murphy, in particular, stands to make even more substantial profits from the hundreds of acres of land which he owns within a few miles of the highway route and which may well be opened up for development once construction is completed.

Mr. Murphy was under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau after playing a central role in the Flood / Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption. Mr Murphy and Frank Reynolds, the former managing director of JMSE, are beneficial directors of Newland Properties Ltd with an address at Ashley House, Batterstown, Co Meath. Both individuals were named in the Third Interim Report of the Flood Tribunal as having hindered and obstructed the tribunal; in Joseph Murphy’s case for not revealing the circumstances in which he paid Dublin Corporation planning official George Redmond on two occasions, and in Frank Reynold’s case for failing to acknowledge that he was present at a meeting where a cash payment was made to George Redmond in the presence of Michael Bailey. Read the rest of this entry »

Professor George Eogan condemns Rath Lugh Intervention

May 14, 2008

The National Roads Authority has stated work is advancing on the M3 motorway in the area close to the Rath Lugh National Monument. Protesters and conservationists have stated that the esker, a glacial ridge, is an integral part of the 2,000-year-old fortification. Construction work on the Rath Lugh section of the M3 has continued regardless, with the north and southbound sections being excavated to foundation level. Crushed stone has been poured into this foundation to allow haulage trucks past Rath Lugh.

    Rath Lugh was already the scene of clashes in March 2008. Three people were arrested when protesters tried to stop construction workers from erecting a permanent steel fence between the fort and the proposed route that the motorway will follow. A metal palisade fence was erected between the construction site of the M3, close to the Rath Lugh national monument in Co. Meath, and a camp in which protesters and conservationists were based.

    The fence was completed by road-building contractor Eurolink on Saturday, 22nd March.

    The NRA says it is putting in place what is known as a ‘box cut’, which outlines the road’s route. It is also building a quib wall and security fencing. It says the steps are being taken for health and safety reasons, and with the advice and consent of the Gardaí.

On Friday 21 March 2008, the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, of the Green Party, was reported as stating that he could “give a cast-iron assurance” that the national monument at Rath Lugh would not be damaged by building the motorway along the current alignment.” Professor George Eogan * travelled to Rath Lugh with the TaraWatch group, and witnessed the building works there. Read the rest of this entry »