Tuesday 28 March 2017

M3 protester 'has enough food to stay in tunnel for a month'

Tara protester Lisa Feeney
has enough
food to sustain her for one
month
Tara protester Lisa Feeney has enough food to sustain her for one month

Shane Hickey

THE stand-off between construction workers, gardai and protesters at the site of the M3 motorway continued yesterday with a young woman remaining holed up in a tunnel at the site.

Lisa 'Squeak' Feeney (26) stayed in the 10-metre tunnel constructed at the Rath Lugh national monument, some 2.3 miles north-east of the Hill of Tara, in the second day of her protest over work on the site.

The Kerry woman, who has lived in Dublin for the past eight years, started her protest at about 7am on Thursday, when demonstrators were served with a notice to move from the area to allow for construction works.

A group of protesters demanded that the route of the M3 be moved away from the national monument at Rath Lugh, claiming the current route contravened the preservation order on the site.

Yesterday, a Department of the Environment inspector said the order was not being contravened after a site visit.

A group of protesters called Rath Lugh Direct Action have set up camp at the site and continued their protest there yesterday.

"She is quite happy, very calm and relaxed, not too claustrophobic or fearing the cabin fever just yet," said Ms Feeney's boyfriend Paddy O'Kearney, who is staying in a tent at the entrance to the tunnel -- which is surrounded by gardai and security officers.

Supplies

Ms Feeney's supporters claim that she has enough dried food to last a month. She is communicating with the surface through a two-way walkie-walkie system.

A safety officer saw her yesterday, and she was also passed additional supplies by colleagues.

It is understood that a tunnelling expert has been engaged by the building contractors, and will travel to the site tomorrow from the UK.

There were violent scenes on Thursday afternoon after workers hammered posts into the ground near the tunnel.

The protesters argue that the action is being carried out to illustrate how unstable the area around the monument is, and the threat of damage to it by the movement of construction equipment. Five demonstrators, who had secured themselves to rigid objects at the scene, removed themselves after a tent was constructed around the entrance to the tunnel.

A spokesman for the National Roads Authority (NRA) said Ms Feeney's action was not having any immediate impact on the construction of the M3, describing it as a "health and safety issue" which was in the hands of the gardai.

"We are still hoping that this young lady will be safe and will exit the tunnel safely and the issue will be resolved through discussions," the spokesman added.

"This is a very serious matter and she could cause herself a lot of harm and we are concerned about her."

A High Court bid to halt work on the motorway failed on Thursday. It claimed there was a risk of damage to the national monument but this was dismissed by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy.

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