21 April 2006

Roche faces court battle over Tara

Daily Ireland

By Ed Carty

Campaigners battling to re-route the M3 motorway away from the Hill of Tara yesterday served environment minister Dick Roche with notice of a Supreme Court challenge.
Lawyer Vincent Salafia said he was appealing a High Court ruling clearing the way for the road, which would snake its way through the ancient capital of Ireland’s kings.
He said he was hopeful the government would try to appease voters ahead of next year’s election by doing a U-turn.
“While the case is proceeding logically to the Supreme Court, and Europe if necessary, we are still hoping for a political decision by the authorities to review the situation and consider rerouting the Tara section of motorway,” he said.
“With an election coming up, the government is acutely aware that 70 per cent of people surveyed nationally in 2005 said they wanted the motorway rerouted away from Tara.”
Formal written notice of the Supreme Court action was handed yesterday to Mr Roche, Attorney General Rory Brady, Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority.
Mr Salafia lost his High Court challenge to the M3 last May. He claimed that the National Monuments Act 2004 was unconstitutional because it did not pass the test laid out by the judge Mary Laffoy in the M50/Carrickmines Castle case.
She recognised the constitutional imperative on the state to protect the national heritage.
The act, introduced by then minister Martin Cullen, gave the minister sole discretion in deciding whether any archaeological site was a national monument and whether it could be demolished.
Mr Salafia has described as unconstitutional the directions given by the minister for the excavation of 38 archaeological sites along the route chosen by Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority.
High Court judge Thomas Smyth rejected Mr Salafia’s claims.
The campaigner is now taking his battle to have the M3 re-routed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that he has standing, as a citizen of Ireland, to take the case.
He will assert that he did not delay in taking legal action, initiating his judicial review of the minister’s directions within eight weeks of them being given last May.
No date has been fixed for the hearing but it will be several months away, possibly in the autumn.

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