Activists call on Minister to visit Tara


PROTESTERS CAMPED near the Hill of Tara in Co Meath have called on Minister for Environment John Gormley to "come and see for himself" that the M3 motorway is being built within the preservation area of the Rath Lugh national monument.

The call came as it emerged road builder Siac Ferrovial was arranging for a specialist risk assessor from Britain to examine tunnels which have been dug under the route of the road by the protesters. The specialist is due on site tomorrow, according to sources.

The protesters also want Mr Gormley to view the tunnels, particularly the underground chamber in which Lisa Feeney has pledged to remain, to prevent what the groups says would be "further damage" to the esker on which the Rath Lugh national monument stands.

Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, protesters' spokesman Terry Canty said members of the camp were concerned about Ms Feeney's safety. She would be in great danger if road-building machines were to resume work in the area, he said. However, he said the members fully supported her decision to remain underground insisting that "everyone is totally committed".

Commenting on the media interest in Ms Feeney's decision to move into the tunnel with supplies of food, books and a sleeping bag, Mr Canty said: "There are nearly more journalists here than campaigners, you know".

He insisted that the protesters were on the right side of the law in attempting to halt work on the motorway.

"It is all within 25 feet of the foot of the monument - that's within the preservation area around the base of Rath Lugh. It is not us who are breaking the law, here it is the whole road that is illegal," he said.

"We want Gormley to come down in person and see the destruction to the hill and the damage being done.

Asked what the protesters would do if the Minister did not come, Mr Canty said they would remain as long as necessary. He repeated that each member of the camp was "totally committed".

Saint Patrick's weekend is not being forgotten by the protesters either, and a general call has gone out for musicians to come to the Hill of Tara for a music session over the weekend.

According to Mr Canty, groups will be heading to the Hill of Tara from Belfast and Dublin, as well as from other parts of the country.

A spokesman for the National Roads Authority said it was "not going to do anything sudden" but was prepared to "sit it out" until talks between gardaí and the protesters concluded.