Hill of Tara case costs awarded against objector
From an article by Mary Carolan, published by the Irish Times on Thursday, March 16th 2006 -
Environmentalist Vincent Salafia was ordered by the High Court yesterday to pay a legal costs bill, which could exceed €600,000, arising from his unsuccessful challenge to the proposed routing of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.
However, Mr Salafia is appealing to the Supreme Court against the High Court's rejection of his case earlier this month and his lawyers are expected to ask the Supreme Court to put a stay on payment of the costs pending the outcome of the appeal.
Mr Justice Thomas Smyth yesterday rejected arguments on behalf of Mr Salafia, of Dodder Vale, Churchtown, that he should be given the costs of his proceedings and instead directed that Mr Salafia pay the costs incurred by the State, Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority in opposing his case.
The judge said it was his view that Mr Salafia had acted out of "a personal dislike" of the proposed M3 route and there were no special circumstances in the case that would justify awarding costs to him.
While Mr Salafia was entitled to espouse a career regarding the environment or as a "professional objector", public funds should not be spent on a case aimed at rerouting a road to protect the sources of Mr Salafia's study interest, which were not national monuments, the judge said.
He awarded costs of the respondents against Mr Salafia and refused an application by Mr Colm MacEochaidh, for Mr Salafia, to put a stay on the costs order in the event of an appeal. A stay was a matter for the Supreme Court, he said.
Afterwards, Mr Salafia said that while his action was taken on an individual basis, he had the support of many people in Ireland and internationally. He said national monuments have been discovered at Tara and work there should cease immediately. "The Irish people's greatest treasures continue to be pilfered."
Mr Salafia had initiated proceedings in 2005 challenging ministerial directions relating to the treatment of archaeological works on the M3 route. An Bord Pleanála had granted permission for the road scheme in late 2003 and the High Court had said Mr Salafia should have initiated his challenge then.
Mr Salafia had argued he was involved at that time in the campaign to save Carrickmines Castle and believed there would be no interference with national monuments at Tara because of legislation then in force.
It was argued he could not be expected to know the Government would in 2004 introduce the National Monuments Amendment Act which, Mr Salafia claimed, removed the existing protections for national monuments.
In his judgment of March 1st dismissing Mr Salafia's challenge, Mr Justice Smyth found the delay in bringing the case disentitled Mr Salafia to any of the reliefs he had sought. The judge also found Mr Salafia did not have the necessary legal standing to bring his case and rejected claims that the disputed provisions of the 2004 Act were unconstitutional.
Ruling on costs yesterday, the judge said Mr Salafia had given an "unconvincing" explanation for not bringing his case earlier and he had substantially lost on all the issues raised. The litigation had cost time, money and effort and the costs should not come out of the public purse, the judge added.
On complaints by Mr Salafia that his case suffered because of the ruling against hearing oral evidence from archaeologists and experts, the judge said there was never any assurance that such oral evidence would be heard. It was not the fault of the respondents that Mr Salafia's case did "not live up to its billing", he said.
Posted by otuathail3
12th April 2006ce
Edited 23rd April 2006ce