Irish Times: Historic sites Bill likely to face legal challenge
The Irish Times
17 June 2004
Opponents of newly-published legislation, which will give the Government power to proceed with road projects which interfere with national monuments after archaeological works are carried out, have threatened to challenge the legislation in the courts.
Protesters gathered outside the Dáil yesterday to voice their opposition to the National Monuments Bill, which, when passed, will clear the way for the motorway at Carrickmines in Dublin to be completed.
The protesters claim the legislation will legalise badly-designed roads, and not protect national monuments.
They also claim the Bill is in breach of the Valletta Convention, to which Ireland is a signatory and which stresses that national heritage sites are afforded European recognition.
An Taisce last night called into question the wisdom of introducing legislation with far-reaching repercussions without a Green Paper or any other democratic consultation.
Speaking on behalf of An Taisce, Dr Mark Clinton said: "If Minister Cullen's intervention is ultimately going to destroy the heritage of the nation, surely he should encourage a proper debate so the public can decide whether they want to maintain our heritage or destroy it."
Mr Vincent Salafia, leader of the Anger Strike against the National Monuments Bill, accused the Government of placing Ireland's heritage in serious danger.
He also warned that any legislation passed would be met by legal action. "We are determined to meet this head on. The legislation will without question be met by a legal challenge.
"Had this Government acted properly and efficiently two years ago, the road would now be built, the castle would be saved and everyone would be happy."
He said the Bill was nothing more than a quick fix.
The Green Party leader, Mr Trevor Sargent, said the Bill would place the future of Irish tourism in jeopardy.
"Tourism is an essential part of Ireland's economy, with millions travelling here every year to get a flavour of Ireland's golden age, and this piece of legislation sends out the wrong message to an already dissatisfied public."
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr Cullen, said yesterday that people have a right if they choose to go to the courts.
However, he stressed that the Bill aimed to protect heritage, deliver infrastructure and safeguard the taxpayer. It would enable the completion of the South Eastern Motorway.
Newly-elected Sinn Féin MEP Ms Mary Lou McDonald said Sinn Féin supported the opposition to the Bill.
National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004
Posted by otuathail3
19th June 2004ce
Edited 22nd June 2004ce