High Court rejects bid to halt work on M3 motorway


AN APPLICATION by protesters for an injunction to halt work on the M3 Dublin-Navan motorway on grounds of safety and potential damage to a national monument linked to the Hill of Tara has been rejected by the High Court.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was told yesterday that protesters had dug a tunnel near the monument, at an esker known as Rath Lugh, and that any attempts to remove a female protester who had allegedly chained herself to a jack in the tunnel could result in the tunnel's collapse and would represent a danger to safety.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) rejected claims that works on the motorway created a danger of damage to Rath Lugh and argued any delay in the project would cost the taxpayer €330,000 a week.

Rath Lugh is located about 3.7km (2.3 miles) northeast of the Hill of Tara and is divided from the hill by the existing N3 road.

The injunction application was brought by a building surveyor, Peadar Ó Ceallaigh, Wolfe Tone Close, Jervis Street, Dublin.

He claimed the roadworks endangered Rath Lugh and that a woman "trapped" in a tunnel underneath the road route was in danger from the impact of heavy diggers passing over it.

Mr Ó Ceallaigh said a preservation order for Rath Lugh, signed last month by Environment Minister John Gormley, was under threat because of the works. He had carried out his own survey and damage has already been caused to the esker.

This was one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe and needed to be properly investigated before any more work took place, he said.

If the project was delayed for even two or three weeks, he would try to pay the cost from his own pocket, he added.

The NRA, the Minister and the Attorney General opposed the injunction application.

Five companies involved in the project - Eurolink Motorway Operations (M3) Ltd, Ferrovial, Agroman (Irl) Ltd, SIAC Construction Ltd and Polish firm Budimex Dronex Spolka Akeygna - were represented in court yesterday but were not party to the proceedings.

Lawyers for the NRA and the Minister said there was no danger to the preservation order. Declan McGrath, counsel for the NRA, said no work would take place which would impinge on the area of the preservation order or on a buffer zone around it.

Refusing to grant the injunction, Ms Justice Laffoy said Mr Ó Ceallaigh had no legal standing to make an application on behalf of a person in a tunnel.

A challenge to the route of the M3 had already been dismissed by the High Court and an appeal to the Supreme Court was withdrawn, the judge noted.