Roche signed order to destroy monument
THE national monument discovered on the route of the controversial M3 motorway in Co Meath is to be destroyed.
In one of his last acts as Environment Minister, Dick Roche signed an order which will see the prehistoric ritual site razed and the motorway built over it.
The move is the first controversy to hit the new Government.
The Green Party has maintained that the M3 route should be diverted from the Hill of Tara.
Opponents of the road plan to 'lock down' the Lismullin site from this morning, pledging not to allow construction workers or archaeologists near the area.
Another group is to take legal action over the coming days in an effort to challenge the constitutionality of the National Monuments Act, and to stop the motorway from being built through the Tara/Skryne Valley.
The Department of the Environment confirmed last night that Mr Roche, who was demoted from the Cabinet yesterday, had signed the order allowing the monument to be preserved 'by record'. This means officials will examine the site and record its location and significance and items of interest - but it will ultimately be destroyed.
Experts believe the site is a henge, or ritual site, and could be up to 4,000 years old.
A spokesman said the order had been signed on the advice of the National Museum, which recommended that an extensive archaeological assessment be carried out before the monument was destroyed and the motorway built.
It is understood that Mr Roche signed the order last Tuesday, in one of his final acts as minister.
Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said he was "appalled" by the decision, adding that the Green Party would now have to defend the order. "We'll be meeting the lawyers first thing."