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Irish Times: Protesters bring temporary halt to work on new M3 motorway

Protesters bring temporary halt to work on new M3 motorway
Fiona Gartland

Irish Times
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Preparatory work for the new M3 motorway from Clonee to Kells in Co
Meath was temporarily disrupted yesterday when Save Tara campaigners
held a protest against the controversial road.

A handful of protesters entered a site at Baronstown, near
Dunshaughlin, where scrub, trees and soil were being removed. They sat
in front of machinery that was being used to move the scrub. They also
sat in the buckets of earth-moving equipment to prevent them from being

Work on the site was halted and workers vacated the area in advance of
an inspection by health and safety consultants.

The action marked the beginning of a campaign against preparatory tree
felling along the route of the M3, including near national monument
Rath Lugh, the site of a promontory fort in the Tara-Skryne Valley and
at Ardsallagh, where a large number of trees have been removed.

Protesters argued that work other than archaeological excavation should
not be taking place before an oral hearing on the National Roads
Authority (NRA) draft tolling scheme for the motorway takes place later
this month and before contracts have been signed with Eurolink, who are
the preferred bidder for the project.

Eric Burke, a protester who lives close to Ardsallagh and whose garden
is included in a compulsory purchase order for the road, said the tree
felling began just before Christmas.

"They did not give us notice the trees would be coming down, they just
came in and did it," he said.

"They haven't finalised the tolling scheme yet, so why have they
started this?"

Local Sinn Féin councillor Joe Reilly has called for work on the route
of the M3 to cease as the public-private partnership contract has not
yet been signed.

However, a spokesman for the NRA said the preparatory work was not part
of the main contract to build the M3 but was being done ahead of the
site transfer and was being carried out by a firm sub-contracted to
Meath County Council.

He also said the draft tolling scheme was a separate issue from the
construction of the motorway and the motorway could still go ahead
regardless of the outcome of the oral hearing.

"The gap can be filled in other ways," he said.

On yesterday's protest, the spokesman said the contractor had taken
appropriate measures.

"There was no need to cause controversy, the decision was to make sure
no one was put in harm's way, even if they were willing to put
themselves in harm's way. The mature stance was not to engage and to
move to work elsewhere," he said.

"That is what the contractor did. A health and safety consultant was
called in and the gardaí were informed of the situation, but because it
did not escalate they did not need to come out."
Posted by otuathail3
7th January 2007ce

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