Irish Times, March 7th
Madam, - As a long-standing "citizen" of Meath, I was extremely disappointed and annoyed to read of the submission made to the Oireachtas Environment Committee by Meath Chambers of Commerce and the Meath Citizens for the M3 group (The Irish Times, March 3rd) effectively repeating the points they made a month ago to the Oireachtas Transport Committee.
Once again, this strange combination of business and other interests, purportedly representing the people of Meath, have come to an Oireachtas committee with a totally unresearched argument, disparaging the rich heritage of Meath, dismissing the evidence given by noted archaeologists and historians, and making sweeping and unfounded assertions based on their own limited, simplistic and unscientific surveys.
In my experience, most Meath people hold in high regard the heritage which has been entrusted to us, recognising that we are fortunate to be guardians of such uniquely important national treasures as the archaeological landscapes of Tara, Br? na B?inne and Sliabh na Caillighe, treasures which bring thousands of tourists to Meath each year.
Yes, we are suffering from appalling congestion on our roads and in our towns and villages (the result of years of neglect and poor planning), but we have not the right to destroy one of the richest and most important archaeological landscapes in Europe to achieve the long-overdue relief. Nor do we need to destroy it. As pointed out in an earlier letter (February 24th) we can preserve the landscape and build the M3.
While the motorway as presently planned will not deliver all the solutions to the problems of Meath's transport deficit - and indeed the double-tolling proposals and routing into the already congested M50 at Blanchardstown are highly problematic in themselves - the fact is that most of this 64-kilometre motorway could proceed on schedule and at greatly reduced cost if the PPP contract (unique in Ireland for its length, scale and inflexibility) could be split in two. It is interesting to note that the NRA has adopted this idea in the case of the N9 motorway (also reported in The Irish Times, March 3rd).
Splitting the contract would allow the much-needed bypasses and the other non-contentious sections of the M3 to be built without undue delay. It would allow a breathing space and adequate time to come up with a better solution for the contentious four-mile section to preserve this unique landscape for future generations to study and enjoy. - Yours, etc.
JULITTA CLANCY Assistant Secretary, Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, Parsonstown, Co Meath.