Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Five people arrested during M3 protests

Gardaí have arrested five people who were protesting against the contentious M3 motorway being routed close to the historic Hill of Tara in Meath.

The campaigners were arrested for public order offences at the site at Blundelstown, about five miles south of Navan town on the west side of the existing M3. They are being held at Navan Garda Station.

The company building the road claimed this morning a construction worker was hospitalised following clashes with protesters. Protesters also claim they were “assaulted” by construction workers.

In a statement, Eurolink said the worker was taken to Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan by ambulance after he was “assaulted” by a protester at the construction site.

“The incident happened a couple of hours after gardaí were called to the M3 construction site at 7am,” the statement said.

“Five protesters delayed commuters on the way to work by blocking the N3 for approximately 45 minutes from 7am this morning, in an effort to stop construction workers going to work at the Blundelstown Interchange construction site.” witnessed no delays to commuters on the N3 shortly after 7am. There were, however, signs of protesters, who have been present at a number of sites along the route at various times in recent weeks.

We recognise the protesters’ right to protest peacefully and legally but we deplore the assault on one of our employees. Workers should be allowed to do their work lawfully, without interference

José Tamariz, Eurolink “What happened this morning is unacceptable and cannot be condoned by anyone,” said José Tamariz, managing director of Eurolink. “We recognise the protesters’ right to protest peacefully and legally but we deplore the assault on one of our employees. Workers should be allowed to do their work lawfully, without interference.”

He added that the company fears the situation on the M3 construction site is becoming “more and more dangerous every day”.

Campaigners against the route of the M3 motorway under construction near the Hill of Tara have also claimed they were involved in clashes with construction workers this morning.

Members of the Tarawatch group said up to 60 protesters were at the site at Soldier Hill on the northern slope of the Hill of Tara, where work is underway on the interchange.

A spokeswoman for the protesters told they had been trying to block diggers and bulldozers when one person was “thrown to the ground” by a group of about five construction workers. Another person had his hand hurt, she said.

The Tarawatch spokeswoman called for a moratorium on all work on the M3 until a full investigation of the route was undertaken by the European Commission.

Tarawatch has opposed the current route from the outset, but has called on the Minister for the Environment to halt work following the discovery of a previously unknown national monument at Lismullin and the destruction of another site at Baronstown two weeks ago.

The campaigners claim Tara is a more extensive site than previously believed and that the road will destroy monuments worthy of international heritage status.

The National Roads Authority insists the current route is the only one feasible and that it is necessary to reduce congestion on the existing N3 and to reduce commuting times between Clonee and Kells, Co Meath.

Construction contractors also say that under a code of practice agreed with the NRA and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands that “major changes” have taken place in the approach to archaeology on national road developments.

They say they now use “innovative” ways of finding new archaeological sites and allow ample time and resources to excavate them. However, in certain projects, such sites must now only be recorded and noted rather than preserved from construction work.

The European Commission is investigating whether aspects of the road may be in breach of EU law. Mr Gormley has insisted he has no power to reverse a decision on the road taken by his predecessor Dick Roche in the week before he left office.

Irish Times


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