Mobilisation Begins of US Tara Demonstrators
'Mobilisation Begins of US Tara Demonstrators for Ahern Speech to Congress'
Now that a the date of 30 April has been fixed for Bertie Ahern's speech to the US Congress, mobilization of Save Tara demonstrators in the US will begin in earnest. TaraWatch is planning a large demonstration in Washington, and an intense media campaign to mark the event.
Over the last four years, TaraWatch has built a strong network of support in major cities across the US. Demonstrations at Irish Consulate offices have already been held in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The issue has also received significant media coverage in the US, including an editorial in the New York Times by Nial Toibin.
A number of prominent American cultural institutions have already condemned the plans for the M3 motorway at Tara:
- The World Monuments Fund, based in New York, placed Tara on the 2008 List of 100 Most Endangered Sites last June. Bonnie Burnham, President of WMF, said at the launch of the List, that Tara would be its "biggest advocacy challenge".
- The Archaeological Institute of America, with over 5,000 members, has issued statements criticising the M3, and its publication, Archaeology Magazine, voted Lismullin one of the top ten most important archaeological discoveries in the world in 2007. In March 2004, Jane Waldbaum, President of AIA wrote a letter to the Irish Times, stating
"...we are shocked that planning permission has been granted, and are particularly alarmed at the news that trial trenching is already beginning on an unusual scale, and is likely to do irreparable damage to the site. We appeal to the Irish authorities as a matter of urgency to move this section of the M3 away from the Tara/Skreen valley and to save this precious legacy from our shared past for posterity."
- The Massachusetts Archaeological Society wrote to the Minister for the Environment, in October 2007, stating:
"We wish to express to you our concerns over this development proposal, since it will adversely affect the archaeological integrity of an entire significant landscape. Many of our members are Irish-Americans, and they have particular concerns about this."
- Notable US academics in US universities like Harvard, UCLA, Berkeley and John Hopkins University have also added their names to letters of protest.
- In addition, there has been a large number of letters to national and local Meath newspapers by Americans and Irish Americans, in opposition to the M3 route.
Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said:
"We are expecting a large and vocal presence for Ahern's Congressional speech from both Irish and non-Irish pro-Tara demonstrators in the US.
"The word from our Irish American contacts is that they are extremely dissatisfied with the Tara decisions and the recent planning tribunal events, both of which they feel very ashamed of.
"The recent US Presidential election primaries, which saw many Americans in Ireland exercising their right to vote at home has highlighted the powerlessness of Irish in the US to participate in Irish elections and express their views on issues like Tara.
"The broad ranging condemnation of the Tara plan by US experts has put the Irish on par with the Taliban, in terms of senseless destruction of world heritage.