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Hill of Tara / M3 motorway UNESCO Consultation - Please make submissions by 30 Jan

category international | history and heritage | news report author Sunday December 21, 2008 14:00author by TaraWatch Report this post to the editors

Call for submissions - Make Tara a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but Re-Route the M3 first!

TaraWatch is calling on the public to make submissions to an advisory group that has been set up by the Irish Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to review the Tentative List of potential UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ireland. The deadline is 30 January, 2009.

The Irish Government is currently building the M3 motorway through the heart of the archaeological complex associated with the Hill of Tara, in County Meath, at the same time that it is proposing to nominate Tara to Ireland’s UNESCO Tentative List (a list of nominees as World Heritage Sites).

Minister for the Environment John Gormley, says he thinks Tara should be a World Heritage Site, and that the M3 shouldn't be a problem. We disagree. We believe the M3 ruins the integrity of the site, and detracts from the outstanding universal value of the site. It would be a breach of the World Heritage Convention, for Ireland and UNESCO to declare Tara a World Heritage Site, with the M3 passing through it.

Our position is that:

- The Hill of Tara complex qualifies for World Heritage status as a natural and cultural landscape of outstanding universal value, due to its unique cultural significance, and the extent of the surviving remains. Tara covers a much larger area than that the 100 acres of State-owned land on the summit of the Hill, which currently delimits the ‘national monument’. The M3 passes through the middle of the area to be protected.

- The entire Tara archaeological complex and cultural/natural landscape should be declared a World Heritage site. Expert bodies such as the World Monuments Fund, the Heritage Council, have recognised Tara consists of the entire Hill of Tara along with the Tara / Skryne valley, as well as the defensive forts that encircle the hill, including national monuments such as the defensive forts of Rath Lugh (to the east), Rath Miles (to the north) and Ringlestown Rath (to the west), and have called for the re-routing of the M3.

-The M3 motorway, due to open in 2010, should be re-routed outside of the Tara complex, before the site is given UNESCO World Heritage Protection. It would be a breach of the World Heritage Convention for UNESCO to inscribe the site, with the M3 passing through it. This is confirmed by the fact that Tara was placed on the World Monuments Fund, 2008-2010 List of 100 Most Endangered Sites

We are asking the public to sign our petition and to make submissions, before Friday, January 30th, 2009. Email your submission to and also

TaraWatch is a member of the UN Global Compact

More information:

Minister Gormley's call for submissions - Dec 1

Minister Gormley's claim that Tara should be a World Heritage Site, despite M3 motorway:

Ireland's current Tentative List:

UNESCO World Heritage Convention:

Related Link:



author by Winter Cherrypublication date Mon Dec 22, 2008 03:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish Times - Not all gloom for the winter solstice - 22 December 2007:

"Neither cloudy skies nor protests at Green failures could dim the conviviality of Newgrange watchers

"Cameras were poised hopefully as the minutes passed. Still no sun rose over the familiar ridge facing the monument. It seemed so unlikely that no one was even willing it to happen. But the crowd was happy, not tense with expectation. A female protester challenged Minister for the Environment John Gormley as he entered the passageway, reminding him of his failure to save the Tara landscape.

"Her comments encouraged other remarks; conversations strayed briefly from Newgrange and the technical achievements of our ancestors to the disappointing performance of the Greens in Government.

"The robust man with the Nordic skier's hat summed it up: "They were full of big righteous talk when they were the opposition but once they got a bit of power, hah, they turned into mice." Strong support for mice as a species resulted in him quickly amending his comments: "I meant rats." "Hear, hear!," endorsed a formidable looking matron with a walking stick, "they've sold out. It's disgusting." Colourful images of self-righteous "eco rats" bearing low-energy light bulbs inspired further exchanges...



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author by Dotpublication date Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There's no light in sight for Gormley as M3 protesters cast a cloud over winter solstice

Hundreds of winter solstice watchers were left disappointed yesterday as the sun failed to shine on Newgrange.

Dull weather prevented the light shining into the 5,000-year-old burial chamber as dawn broke on the shortest day of the year.

Environment Minister John Gormley -- one of 19 VIPs and lottery winners allowed entry to the Neolithic chamber -- didn't get the blame for the sun failing to shine at the ancient Co Meath site.

But the Green Party leader was heckled over his failure to reroute the M3 motorway from historic cultural sites at the Tara and Skryne Valley.

"When you come out Minister John Gormley, will your hands be untied?" shouted Heather Buchanan, from Co Meath. "He talks about sacred land but he doesn't practise what he preaches. I want to know what his intentions are going into the chamber, what does he hope to achieve by entering the chamber? What does he feel coming out of the chamber, I'd love to know, I'm sure the whole nation would love to know that."....

author by Bettinapublication date Wed Dec 24, 2008 09:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Do you have a template for the submission?
I have never written one but would like to in this case.

author by Weather Eyepublication date Mon Jan 19, 2009 16:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Guidelines for submissions on revision of Ireland’s Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, By Expert Advisory Group have been hyperinked at:

author by TWpublication date Mon Jan 19, 2009 16:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

[The following release went out today. Another will go tomorrow, giving details of an event to be held at TCD, focusing on the UNESCO Consultation, and the human right to culture. More details soon.]


18 January 2009

'Heritage Bodies Excluded from Minister Gormley's Advisory Group on Tentative UNESCO Sites, and Improper Public Consultation'

TaraWatch will file a complaint with Minister Gormley and UNESCO that the Expert Advisory Group, appointed by Minister Gormley to oversee the UNESCO Tentative List Review Process, is improperly constituted and is conducting a deeply flawed review process.

The Department of Arts, Sports & Tourism; The National Museum of Ireland; the National Tourism Development Authority (Fáilte Ireland); and the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (R.S.A.I), have no membership on the Minister's panel of experts. (Details attached)

The Chairperson of the Expert Advisory Group is Lord Donald Hankey, who is President of the United Kingdom chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), who has no expertise in Irish sites. He is also Chairman of GHK International Limited (UK), private consultants in environment, governance, social policy, ports & logistics, and economic development.

TaraWatch is also objecting to the fact that one of expert panel, Dr. Jukka Jokilehto of ICOMOS International, expressed an opinion in April 2008, that the M3 would not interfere with the placement of the Hill of Tara on the Tentative List, before he had conducted his research. A press release from the Department of the Environment, 28 April 2008 stated:

“Referring to the review of the tentative list, the Minister mentioned the Hill of Tara National Monument in particular by saying “My Department recently engaged Dr Jukka Jokilehto to visit the sites currently on Ireland’s tentative list, as well as Tara. He concluded that the Hill of Tara National Monument has strong merit for inclusion in an application to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage site and he did not see the proposed new road as being an obstacle to making this recommendation.”

Additionally, TaraWatch is complaining that legal public consultation rules were not being followed:

- There was no proper notification to the public, in national and local newspapers.

- There were no workshops, or public information events of any kind

- NGOs and civil society are not represented on the panel, other than by An Taisce, who are non-independent and funded by the Department of the Environment.

- There is only an 8 week period for consultation, which began just before the Christmas holidays, on December 1 and ends early in the new year, on January 30.

The fine print on the Department of the Environment Web site states that “Submissions should only be made on the formal proposal form”, but said forms have not been distributed to the public, except for on the Department web site.

A TaraWatch spokesperson said:

“We are objecting to the composition and conduct of the Minister's Expert Advisory Group, appointed to oversee the UNESCO Tentative List Review Process, on the basis that it excludes statutory bodies with responsibility for heritage a tourism, and has a chairman from the UK with no expertise in Irish heritage.

“The conduct of the group prevents the public from making submissions, due to a failure to properly advertise the process to the public, failure to distribute the mandatory forms, and failure to give adequate time to make submissions.”

“One of the experts gave his opinion on the Hill of Tara and the M3 motorway before the review process even began, and he performed his inspection of the site.

“Our experts claim that Tara should be on the Tentative List, but only if the M3 is re-routed. Many of the experts and bodies that have been excluded, agree, as do the general public.”

“The public have waited since the last List made in 1992 for a review of the candidates for UNESCO World Heritage status, and this group and process makes a mockery that vitally important process.

“The expert panel must be expanded to include all relevant experts on heritage, and representatives from NGOs and civil society. The
consultation period should also be extended, and more basic information about it given to the public.



Minister Gormley launches the legal incorporation and charitable status designation of ICOMOS Ireland (DoE Press release. 28.04.08)

Ireland’s World Heritage - Review of Tentative List
(DoE Press release 01/12/08)

* EXCLUDED BODIES. National bodies with a statutory responsibility for Irish heritage and tourism, have been excluded from the Group, including:


- The Department of Arts Sports & Tourism, which oversees the National Museum and Failte Ireland, has no representative in the Group, while the Department of the Environment has 7 of the 16 seats.

The Department's role is:

- ”To acknowledge the fine art and cultural heritage of the country by providing the capital infrastructure for the National Cultural Institutions, and to influence the development of the private sector cultural industry through appropriate financial support for projects supporting the cultural infrastructure in Ireland

- "To support the growth of a competitive and sustainable tourism industry, enhancing its contribution to national economic and social goals.”


The National Museum of Ireland, are not represented on the Group. The Museum:

- plays a major role as a regulatory body in Irish archaeology;
has a statutory role in planning,
is the authoritative voice on authenticity and the relevant aspects of Irish heritage, culture and natural history, and
maintains the lead role in education, research and scholarship


- National Tourism Development Authority (Fáilte Ireland)
The mission of the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, is: "To increase the contribution of tourism to the economy by facilitating the development of a competitive and profitable tourism industry."


- The Royal Society of Antiquaries has a statutory role in planning and was founded in 1849, “To preserve, examine and illustrate all ancient monuments and memorials of the arts, manners and customs of the past, as connected with the antiquities, language, literature and history of Ireland.’

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author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Tue Jan 20, 2009 16:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Sun didnt shine into Newgrange for Michael Mac Dowell either!

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