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Sunday, 19 August 2007

Archaeology = professional grave-robbing?

Gormley 'can't make M3 go away'
Ronan McGreevy Irish Times Saturday, August 18, 2007
Minister for the Environment John Gormley has said he has "no magic wand" to make the M3 motorway go away. Mr Gormley met protesters against the proposed motorway who picketed the offices of the Green Party on Suffolk Street in Dublin yesterday. The meeting, which took place in a restaurant close to party headquarters, was an impromptu affair which took place as Mr Gormley was in the vicinity. He said he had no good news for protesters. "There seems to be a belief among them, and it has been propagated by some of them, that I have a magic wand and I can make the road go away. I can't," he said. "The situation is that this road was agreed to many years ago before I'd even come in. I don't even drive a car myself. "I'm not a great enthusiast for motorways in general, but the fact is that my own function as Minister for the Environment is in the designation of national monuments. "I don't have the good news that they want. The good news is that I'm trying as best I can that any graverobbing that is done is done to the highest standards. "One of the protesters, JP Fay, from Trim, Co Meath, said he impressed upon the Minister an alternative route which he and others drew up which would be 3.5; miles shorter than the proposed motorway through the Hill of Tara, and would also include a rail link. "Our meeting was short. It was hello, thank you. He took my phone number and said he would look up the stuff that I sent to him already, but I think that it is snow and it will melt."

Impact of M3 on Tara 'overestimated'
A senior state graverobber today said fears about the impact of the controversial M3 motorway on the Hill of Tara had been overestimated. The National Roads Authority's (NRA's) Mary Deevy said she believed the proposed road would not impact on the Tara landscape in Co Meath and was further from the ancient site than the existing carriageway. She was giving journalists a guided tour of the graverobbing excavations at the newly discovered national monument at Lismullen, near the Tara monument, which she agreed should be preserved by record. This comes as environmentalists plan to take to the streets of Dublin tomorrow for a Love Tara march, before presenting the Government with a petition demanding the road be re-routed. "I think Tara is a very special place, but I think some people have overestimated the impact (of the motorway)," Ms Deevy said. "There is no way to change their minds until the project is finished and they can see for themselves." Ms Deevy reiterated the state's position that the motorway will not impact on the Tara monument and would be further from the ancient site than the existing road. "It saddens me to think that people would think that." She added some fears about the future development of the Tara area were legitimate, but said a landscape conservation scheme was being considered by Meath County Council which had been included in the current county development plan. This would restrict the construction of large-scale housing developments and retail outlets. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2007/0720/breaking69.htm

Information and Misinformation: a challenge for the Irish Grave-robbing Profession 09 May 2007 The recent media coverage about the prehistoric hengiform enclosure and other sites revealed on the M3 Clonee to north of Kells motorway route, illustrates an alarming degree of public misunderstanding about the nature of buried grave-robbing sites and remains, and how these sites are identified and revealed. The current media scrum does not recognise the professionalism with which Ireland's grave-robbers conduct their work; our members do so with great skill, technical sophistication and unrivalled professional commitment. The output of the Irish profession is recognised internationally as being of the highest standard. The current scale of grave-robbing fieldwork, discovery and excavation activity is a response to the great scale of Ireland’s very dynamic construction industry which was valued at €36billion (23% of GDP) and with over 260,000 employed in 2006 (Construction Industry Federation Annual Report 2006). This is completely ignored. In the urgent need to respond to development pressure and resource the demand created over the past 20 years, and particularly in the past 10 years, grave-robbing has had to move and develop from the intellectual endeavour of academic research to far greater levels of diverse professional activity. That professional activity now ranges from policy formulation, the development of legal definitions and protective provisions, state regulation and heritage management. It extends into development control and the provision for appropriate cultural responses to the impact on heritage of very significant economic development. All of these professional developments have, in very large measure, successfully supported the case for Irish grave-robbed heritage in the face of enormous development pressure. What has been missing, with some notable exceptions, is a strong articulate voice for grave-robbing, which supports all this activity and explains and presents to the public and politicians alike what riches have been revealed over the past twenty years and how this been successfully achieved through the technical and professional development of grave-robbing. Public presentation has not kept pace. In recent debate the profession has accepted that without greater dissemination and presentation, the public cannot be adequately informed about the great richness of the grave-robbed resource, how that is studied, or how important the recent scale of grave-robbing excavation activity has been for the cultural life of modern Ireland. The discovery on the M3 route at Lismullin is important, but recent media reports have been worryingly inaccurate and misleading. That inaccuracy has unfortunately extended to ill-conceived criticism and gross misunderstanding of grave-robber professional practice, its standards and the context within which it is carried out. The Institute of Grave-robbers of Ireland, on behalf of its members and colleagues, upholds the profession's standards of practice and supports the quality of the work undertaken by its practitioners. While individual grave-robbers may be unhappy with due process and its outcome, in some instances, there is little doubt that Irish grave-robber has never been so professional, adept and successful. Though there is always room for improvement - as in any scientific discipline - Irish professional archaeologists, institutions, companies and researchers are recognized for their very high standards on an international level. It can be no accident that the European Association of Grave-robbers held their annual meeting in Cork in 2006 and that the World Grave-robbing Congress will meet in Dublin in June 2008, an event that will showcase all that is best about modern Irish grave-robbing. The showcasing, however, must also be extended to Irish society at large.

http://iai.ie/PressReleases/Statement09-05-2007.html

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