An Taisce September 2015 eZine

28th August 2015

Guided Walk: Industrial Heritage of Ramelton Co DL Aug 30th @ 3 p.m.

Local Association Event
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Gamble's Square Ramelton

Guided tour taking in the surviving physical remains of Ramelton's industrial past from its bleaching green, disused mills and deserted quays. Guide: Deirdra Friel ( Donegal Heritage Trails) A leisurely and scenic walk in this Heritage Town.

The Donegal Association of An Taisce is privileged that Deirdra has put together this tour especially to coincide with the Industrial Heritage theme of this year’s National Heritage Week. This is a leisurely and enjoyable walk that never strays far from the River Lennon. We look at some of the buildings that are connected with the linen industry in the town while walking along the tree lined Mall with its roses in full bloom. We cross the bridge and walk along the Green Lane to Kelly’s Mill where corn was milled. We return along the footpath beside the public road. We finish back at the quays looking at the warehouses and how the corn and linen were exported.

Cost An Taisce Members: 
free
Cost Non Members: 
free

Plea for reports

1st July 2015
Report

The eZine is published at the start of every month - can we request Local Associations and anyone else that wants a report included to email ezine@antaisce.org with their report.

Meath Association eZine Report - July 2015

1st July 2015
Report

Despite torrential rain members of the Meath Association had a charming delightful visit to Ballymurrin Quaker Homestead, Kilbride, County Wicklow, courtesy of Philip and Delphine Geoghegan in May. The stone farmstead was built by the Quakers in 1668 and the premises has underwent several extensions, however the main house still retains many of its original features including the forge with beehive chimney and clay canopy, stone bake ovens and the Meeting Room. The farmstead also has a single storey cottage which marks the earliest settlement on the site and a Quaker family graveyard.

Philip gave a very insightful talk on past inhabitants of the house including William Bates who resided there in the 1670s, who later following imprisonment emigrated to America and leased land from William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. Further details on bookings for the house can be obtained on the website: www.ballymurrinquakerfarmstead.eu.

Following a tour of the house and lunch Philip guided us to Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens to see the stunning giant Himalayan rhododendrons walkways which had been planted by the Acton family from the 1850s onwards under the guidance of David Moore, curator of the Botanic Gardens, Dublin, followed by his son Sir Frederick Moore.

Philip Quested a volunteer with the Botanic Gardens gave a talk on the exotic tree varieties on the estate including yew, North American conifers and Chilean trees. Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens are open to the public and further details can be viewed on www.botanicgardens.ie.

Jean Carr, Chairperson of the Meath Association attended Patricia Oliver’s retirement celebration in Tailors Hall on 4th June. It was a very special occasion and we are very proud of Patricia & her achievements here in Meath. She has left a great legacy for the Green School Program and the other environmental projects Patricia was involved with.

Many of our members attended the Waterloo Picnic at Dangan, Summerhill, Co. Meath on 20th June which was organised by Christopher Gray and family to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the great battle. Following a picnic of spit roast pig in glorious sunshine, on the eve of midsummer’s eve Antelope Productions, the Delmaine String Quartet and Credo provided an evening performance with Michael James Ford and Gary Jermyn recalling the battle. The Obelisk which stands at over 36 feet high and recently restored, provided a wonderful backdrop to the stage. There were originally 25 obelisks but only 2 remain. A clearing in the Meath meadow’s hedge enabled one a scenic view of the surrounding countryside and counties and the ruins of Dangan Castle, the childhood home of the Duke of Wellington.

There is an excellent example of thatched cottage restoration in Duleek with the utilisation of Irish thatch by an Irish company, preserving another vernacular thatched cottage for the county. If any of our members notice other renovation projects let us know by contacting the secretary at memon1997@gmail.com or any other members of An Taisce.

There was a talk and reception in Ardbraccan House on Friday 12th May by kind invite of Canon John Clarke which gave an overview of the relationship of Ardbraccan House to Navan Church of Ireland Parishes. Aardbraccan House is a large Palladian house and was the residence of the Church of Ireland Lord Bishop of Meath during the 1800s.

An Taisce Challenges Transport and Agriculture to 'Get Their Heads Out of the Sand' and Actually achieve their agreed 2020 Climate Targets

3rd July 2015
Press Release

An Taisce welcomes the statement by Minister Alan Kelly that the Government is willing (finally) to accept some limited but meaningful amendments to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015. We especially note the proposed formal reference to the April 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Change, which sets out specific, minimum, national targets governing emissions reduction between now and 2050.

These concessions were unnecessarily belated, and still fall far short of meeting the scale and urgency demanded by the climate challenge. Nonetheless, this is a clear victory for those citizens and organisations who campaigned relentlessly for honest and meaningful legislation, and proves that – with widespread community mobilisation – serious political change is possible. The Bill must still be enacted, and that must be done without further procrastination; but then the battle moves on, and we must test the political will to replace mere words with commensurate actions.

Ireland has legally binding 2020 targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 2005 levels. However, no Irish Government has ever specified how the overall 2020 target is to be shared – i.e., what each sector must do to meet the required total reduction. Therefore we must assume that each sector must achieve the same 20% reduction as the aggregate target.

In that light, An Taisce is very seriously concerned that the Irish Government, and the Departments of Transport and Agriculture in particular, appear to be already preparing to renege on their targets (note 1). In the notes below and the spreadsheet provided, An Taisce provides data on what the implied sectoral 2020 targets are, and details the shortfall that now needs to be urgently addressed in the limited time remaining before then (notes 2, 3). The data shows that the main reason for this unacceptable shortfall is the dismal failure to cut emissions in transport and agriculture. Rather than the 20% reduction, transport is set to achieve nothing at all. Agriculture is set for only a 4% fall, which has been further reinforced just this week by the publication of “Food Wise 2025”, a new “10-year vision for the Irish Agri-food industry” (note 4). Despite an entire chapter dedicated to “sustainability”, there is still no concrete sectoral commitment to absolute emissions reduction of any level.

If the Government disagrees with our figures we would like to know their “alternative” plan: and specifically which sectors will be required to over-achieve, and by how much, in order to allow other, more “privileged”, sectors to fall short.

Prof. Barry McMullin, Chair of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee stated:

The projected emissions data from the Environmental Protection Agency show starkly this Government’s sustained failure, over four years in office, to set a viable decarbonisation pathway for the economy as a whole, and for agriculture and transport in particular. They repeatedly emphasise the need to find “minimal cost” actions; while utterly neglecting the mounting costs of failure to act – directly to ourselves, but especially to those in underdeveloped parts of the world, who have done least to cause the problem, but suffer the worst impacts of our continuing emissions extravagance.

The Government Departments for Agriculture and Transport have their ‘Heads in the Sand’, effectively denying their responsibilities to Irish citizens to enable rapid deep decarbonisation in their sectors. To date their preferred future policy is to ‘flatline emissions’. In other words, their “plan” is simply to continue “pollution as usual”.

As this Saturday’s “Heads in the Sand” event at Sandymount at 11.am (note 5) will illustrate, our Government and all Irish citizens need to wake up to climate reality. Past inaction means that this now requires urgent and radical emission reductions, across all sectors, based on the limited remaining greenhouse gas budget available to us (note 6).

An Taisce challenges all Irish politicians, but especially those currently in government, to state their emission reduction targets for each sector to 2020. Otherwise, the implied target for each sector – for energy, buildings and agriculture – must default to the overall target of ‘minus 20% compared to 2005’; and commensurate policy actions are badly overdue.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES:

  1. Ireland is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to a level 20% lower than in 2005 in the group of buildings, transport and agriculture sectors combined. This is the so-called ‘non-ETS’ group of sectors that makes up the national emissions that are not traded within in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Agriculture comprises over 44% of Ireland’s non-ETS sector and transport 26%.
  2. EPA (2015) Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2014-2035: http://tinyurl.com/paznjhh [PDF]
  3. Link to spreadsheet showing past and projected emissions from the EPA along with An Taisce calculations of the minus 20% targets for all sectors that is implied by government failure to divide the target among different sectors. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEdG5wSXdKRmNuRWc/view?usp=sharing
  4. Food Wise 2025 http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/agri-foodindustry/foodwise2025/report/htmlfiles/contents.htm
  5. Stop Climate Chaos protest event in Dublin, Saturday 4th July 2015. http://tinyurl.com/oq5svjs
  6. “Human activity keeps adding Greenhouse Gases – It is the Cumulative Total that must be limited to avoid abrupt Climate Change”, An Taisce briefing, September 2014. http://tinyurl.com/oxmsryk
  7. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEbWI4a01JNHFRbFE/view?usp=sharing

An Taisce Green Communities Pallet Vertical Planter Workshop

13th July 2015
News Item

Saturday the 4th of July saw the first of two July Green Communities Training Events, and this was held at Brookfield Community Garden, Jobstown, Tallaght, South Dublin. The day's main focus saw volunteers attempt to transform a wooden pallet into a flower planter to hang from walls or railings. This was no easy task as the warm sunny day was quite breezy which made measuring and afixing the landscaping material to the wooden planters more difficult. The workshop did not get underway until 1 pm as many people arrived quite late, the location being well hidden within a laneway off Brookfield Road in Jobstown. Also at least two guided tours of the garden were provided by Mary Clare Wallace, explaining who looks after the various different parts of the garden and the sequence of events thus far involved in the transformation of a disused laneway into this peaceful community garden next to Saint Aidan's National School. The workshop showed that by lining with landscaping material and planting with bedding flowers we can convert waste into a beneficial object that greatly improves the look of urban concrete walls and palisade fencing. It is a lot more time consuming than anticipated, but simple enough to do requiring only pallets, landscape material, staple gun, measuring tape, and scissors. Carpentry skills are not necessary, and the end result looks stunning. Hopefully the 30 odd people who attended will encourage more community gardens to begin transforming Dublin's ubiquitous palisade fencing into vertical floral displays using this method. For detailed instructions see:

http://www.upcyclethat.com/vertical-pallet-planter/3745/

The afternoon was beautifully warm and relaxed with a pleasant breeze, one light rain shower interrupted summer briefly just before lunch but this was over within minutes. After lunch we summoned our remaining energy to mount the planter upon the railings with cable ties before planting it up and watering the new vertical bed.

News Source Name: 
Robert Moss

Papal encyclical on climate

13th July 2015
News Item

Here is the link to the full text of the recent Papal encyclical

News Source Name: 
The Vatican

Peregrine Falcons at Poolbeg

13th July 2015
Press Release

An Taisce is very taken by this a short film documentary by Alan Caulfield featuring a pair of breeding peregrine falcons living on the Poolbeg chimneys.

It's a good example of a crossover between natural and built heritage - you can see the doc here, it's 8minutes long https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCuFK29EFa4&feature=youtu.be

He has also set up a Facebook page for it, where you'll find a fairly substantial article giving some background. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quill-To-Power/1611460305759531?fref=nf

The latest is that the birds had two chicks this season which flew the nest in the last fortnight and are still in the Poolbeg area, but also that the chimneys are to be preserved by the ESB.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Peregrine Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Contrarian Climate Views: Professor John Sweeney Speaks Out

16th July 2015
News Item

The following is the text of a letter prepared by Prof. John Sweeney, Ireland's foremost climate scientist. The letter was originally submitted to the Irish Times on 5th July 2015. It was not accepted for publication. Nonetheless, in response to ongoing commentary in that newspaper, Prof. Sweeney submitted a revised and updated version on 13th July 2015. Again, it has apparently not been accepted for publication (as of 16th July 2015). Given these circumstances, and with Prof. Sweeney's permission, An Taisce now publishes the full letter here (with minor final updating), in the interests of fully informed public debate on Ireland's proper and ethical contribution to promoting (as opposed to undermining) climate justice in the 21st century.

To: The Editor, The Irish Times.

Date: 13th July 2015

Sir,

I congratulate the Irish Times for its enlightened editorial of Friday 3rd July, particularly as it offered a rebuttal of some of the opinions expressed earlier that week by Professor Ray Bates. Unfortunately, in a further letter from Professor Bates, which you chose to publish on 10th July, he took the opportunity to congratulate himself on a presumed absence of disagreement with the specifically scientific views he expressed in his original opinion piece. That presumption is seriously misplaced. In fact, and not for the first time, Professor Bates sought to espouse his contrarian views regarding the seriousness of climate change by a selective ‘cherry picking’ of the recent IPCC Assessment Report and a misinterpretation of current climate science.

There are many aspects of the various contentions made by Prof. Bates which lack robustness, too many to reply individually to. However what is most disappointing from an academic perspective is the selective quoting of only that part of a paragraph from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report which appears to suit his arguments. He states that recent warming has been confined to two periods (supposedly ending in 1998), and contends that the human contribution to this warming is comparable to the ‘natural’. The sentence cherry picked from the IPCC was as follows: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations” [IPCC AR5-WG1-SPM, 2013, p. 17]. Had he wished to accurately report the paragraph concerned he would have emphasised the immediately following sentence in the Report also. This clarifies that the “more than half” attribution is effectively a minimum; in fact the current best scientific estimate is that essentially all of the warming over the last 60 years is due to human activity (“The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period”).

There are a number of other scientific inaccuracies which permeate the article. The claimed increased uncertainty regarding causes of future sea level rise is just one. Far from increased uncertainty in attributing causes to sea-level rise, the recent IPCC Report provided a closed budget for the first time, the very opposite of increased uncertainty. Similarly, the preoccupation with the rate of warming since 1998 is also at variance with what has actually been observed. Warming has continued since 1998 and 2014 was the warmest year on record, with early indications that 2015 will exceed even this. While short term variations occur in where the heat of the planet is being stored, its continuing, rapid, and accelerating warming, due primarily to human activity, is not in any significant scientific doubt whatsoever.

Despite Professor Bates’ complacent contention to the contrary, it is absolutely valid to describe the problem of climate change as a ‘planetary emergency’. Earlier this month in southern Germany over 30 science Nobel Laureates gathered to make a declaration on climate change. They made a similar declaration nearly 60 years ago about nuclear arms. Their considered opinion is that “our world today faces another threat of comparable magnitude”.

Professor Bates cites an unidentified conference to substantiate his alternative arguments. Perhaps if he had attended the Climate Justice conference in Maynooth two weeks ago that he refers to, and listened to UN Special Envoy Mary Robinson, or heard the poignant case made by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu at the recent conference on the Papal Encyclical in Rome which I attended, he might reconsider his blind acceptance of the ‘national interest’ as the message Ireland wants to send the world on this issue.

Yours etc.

Emeritus Professor John Sweeney, Maynooth University

An Taisce publishes comments by Prof. John Sweeney on "Climate Contrarianism"

17th July 2015
Press Release

A recent article [note 1] by meteorologist Prof Ray Bates, and prominently featured in an Irish national newspaper, claimed that "increased uncertainty” in recent IPCC reports on the likely course of future climate change means that Ireland need not take steps to urgently or aggressively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions; rather, Prof. Bates argued, we should prioritise protection of our own, Irish, economic interests.

The supposed scientific basis for these arguments, has now been roundly criticised by Ireland’s leading climatologist, Professor John Sweeney (Professor Emeritus at Maynooth University, former Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit, and a full IPCC contributing author). Because these comments by Prof. Sweeney have not (as yet) been afforded a comparable platform by the original media outlet, An Taisce is pleased that Prof. Sweeney has given permission for their open publication and dissemination via the An Taisce web site [note 2].

In his critique, Prof. Sweeney states that the original article by Prof. Bates contained numerous “scientific inaccuracies” and he goes on to detail how the article appears to engage in clear “cherry picking” and systematic misrepresention of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report “to suit [Prof. Bates' own] arguments”. Prof. Sweeney affirms the unambiguous scientific consensus that far from slowing or stopping, the overall warming of the Earth is continuing, and indeed accelerating, and this is unequivocally associated with human activities. Prof. Sweeney is unambiguous in judging that it is now "absolutely valid to describe the problem of climate change as a ‘planetary emergency’”. He concludes by highlighting the need to view climate action in a context of global climate justice, and he firmly rejects narrow ‘national interest’ as a message Ireland should wish to send the world on this issue.

Commenting on this publication of Prof. Sweeney's remarks, Barry McMullin, Chair of the An Taisce Climate Committee, said:

"Honest and open discussion about the implications of climate change for Ireland, and the need for urgent and radical policy response, is long overdue. An Taisce welcomes all engagement by Irish media in that honest policy debate. However, it is essential that this discussion be grounded in the best available scientific insights, and not distorted or derailed by fringe or contrarian views. Accordingly, An Taisce is delighted today to release these important comments by Ireland's leading climate scientist, Professor John Sweeney. We believe they are a significant contribution to informing and clarifying public understanding on what is probably the most profound, and most urgent, political, economic, and ethical challenge facing Irish society in the 21st century."

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel +353 87 2332689
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES

  1. http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/climate-action-preoccupation-with-level-of-farm-emissions-is-misguided-1.2268409#.VaJnltrnndY.twitter
  2. http://www.antaisce.org/articles/contrarian-climate-views-professor-john-sweeney-speaks-out

Record breaking number seek to save the EU's wildlife laws

24th July 2015
Press Release

Almost half a million (live updated number https://www.naturealert.eu/en)* people from across Europe - including thousands from Ireland - have called on the European Commission to save Europe’s nature laws. This is by far the highest number of responses ever to an EU public consultation. The consultation formally closes at midnight on 26 July.

In May, major environmental organisations (note 2) - including An Taisce - launched the ‘Nature Alert’ campaign (note 3) in response to the European Commission’s suggestion to evaluate whether the existing EU nature laws should be changed. The campaign makes the case for improved implementation and enforcement of these existing laws, known as the Birds and Habitats Directives.

Alongside almost half a million citizens*, over 120 environmental NGOs have sent a clear message to European decision makers: EU nature laws should not be changed.

The laws protect over 1,000 key species and over 27,000 natural sites in Europe. They have been credited with saving a number of iconic species native to Europe such as the Grey Wolf, the White-Tailed Sea Eagle and the Common Seal (note 4). As a result, the EU is now home to the world’s largest network of protected areas, Natura 2000, which covers almost a fifth of the EU’s land as well as extensive marine areas.

Scientific evidence shows (note 5) that the laws effectively protect key endangered species and threatened habitats, and contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities and regions.

In parallel with the public consultation (6), the European Commission has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders including national authorities, land users, the business community and environmental NGOs. The vast majority of evidence submitted supports the Directives and points at the need for better implementation and enforcement and for increased funding for conservation. Very few stakeholders have called into question the Directives in their current form and requested a revision of the laws.

Dr. Andrew Jackson, Natural Environment Officer and Solicitor for An Taisce, comments:

"This consultation has united people across Europe in defence of wildlife. As this huge response shows, the public cares deeply about nature conservation and the laws that preserve our most treasured places, including our national parks and many hundreds of other spectacular sites across Ireland. The message to the European Commission is loud and clear: we need to see better implementation and enforcement of these laws, not renegotiation and weakening."

The official analysis of the consultation is likely to be published in autumn 2015 and a final decision on the future of the laws is expected by June 2016.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES:

  1. The consultation has been the only chance for the public to have their say during the technical evaluation. The process of reviewing the Nature Directives began in January 2015 and will take more than a year to complete. In a few months the campaign has generated an unprecedented public response: over 50,000 tweets were sent to Vice President Timmermans and the EU Environment Commissioner Vella to defend these laws. The directives are currently under review as part of wider efforts by the Commission to make sure European legislation is fit for purpose.
  2. BirdLife, the European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF.
  3. Nature Alert campaign website http://www.naturealert.eu; An Taisce's page http://www.antaisce.org/naturealert
  4. Conservation successes due to the Nature Directives http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/natura2000_factsheet_final.pdf
  5. The scientific evidence and case studies submitted by environmental NGOs during the Fitness please check (for example): Birdlife Evidence - WWF Evidence Gathering Questionnaire for the Fitness Check of the Nature Directives

State concedes An Taisce’s Beit Paintings Export Licence Case

28th July 2015
Press Release

In the High Court today, the State conceded, without reservation, that the National Gallery of Ireland's licence issued to Christie’s acting on behalf of the Alfred Beit Foundation for export of art works in March 2015 was unlawful.

An Taisce is now seeking the repatriation of the relevant paintings and artworks and action by Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht

An Taisce obtained complete vindication of its legal action against the National Gallery of Ireland and the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in a settlement reached and read before the High Court today, given the State chose to concede the matter rather than defend the unlawful licensing regime.

The case was initiated by An Taisce challenging the legal entitlement of the National Gallery of Ireland to act on behalf of the Minster for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht in issuing an export license under the Documents and Pictures Act (Regulation of Export Act) 1945. The case was taken by An Taisce following the failure of the repondents to respond to An Taisce’s concerns regarding the lawfulness of the licenses.

The Alfred Beit Foundation had sought the export of ten artworks in March 2015 for sale, with seven consigned for auction by Christies in July.

While one of the works was sold privately through Christies and two watercolours were auctioned in June 2015, the remaining items were withdrawn from auction in June following the lodgement of An Taisce’s legal proceedings in the High Court and the sale “postponed.

This experience exposes the failure of the Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht to act to resolve this unlawful export and establish an effective export license regime in Ireland.

Today’s declaration establishes that the export licence granted to the Alfred Beit Foundation was without legal authority under Irish law. Subsequent licences issued on foot of them in the UK to facilitate their export outside the EU were also thus compromised. The paintings cannot now be lawfully exported outside the European Union without first being returned to this jurisdiction and a lawful licence granted.

The State, through the Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht, agreed in the settlement to the following terms :

  1. "A declaration by way of application for judicial review that the grant of the said licence was ultra vires the authority of the First Respondent under the Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export Act) 1945."
  2. "A declaration by way of application for judicial review that the appropriate authority for the grant of such licence was the Second Respondent."

(The case was against the National Gallery of Ireland as first respondent and the Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht as second respondent.)

An order in respect of the costs of An Taisce’s legal team was also made by the High Court

Following the conclusion of the settlement in Court today Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce’s Communication Officer stated :

‘It is clear now that the Minister should have taken responsibility for the unlawful export of paintings of such cultural significance. So we are calling for Minister Humphreys to take action to secure their return, and not waited till the 11th hour and a court action to do so..’

He continued:

‘The Government have been happy until now to stand on the side lines and claim it is not their responsibility but as we have seen from the High Court decision today that this simply is not the case, they are the competent authority. These paintings were donated by Sir Alfred Beit to a Charitable Foundation with the primary objective to promote art education and appreciation including the public exhibition of paintings in Ireland.'

An Taisce is now seeking the following action:

  1. That the Alfred Beit Foundation repatriate the paintings and for the ABF, for the first time, to properly engage and exhaust any and all means to keep these art works in Ireland.

  2. That the National Gallery of Ireland, in being found to have acted outside its powers, confirm that it will not issue any further export licenses under the 1945 Act.

  3. That the Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht put in place an effective art and historic artefact export licensing regime which provides a mechanism to ensure that cultural artefacts of national significance can be preserved for the nation.

  4. The the Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht engage directly with the National Gallery of Ireland to identify any and all other licences in play where sales are pending on foot of unlawful licences, and that the Minister make such details publicly available.

An Taisce was represented in the proceedings by Sara Moorhead, S.C. and John Kenny B.L. instructed by Phelim O’Neill Solicitors.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES:

An Taisce was represented in the proceedings by Sara Moorhead, S.C. and John Kenny B.L. instructed by Phelim O’Neill Solicitors.

An Taisce's Submission to the National Mitigation Plan

31st July 2015
Submission Summary

Executive Summary

Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan must set out a carbon-budgeted pathway to a net-zero carbon future for the Irish economy by very soon after 2050. This massive challenge requires enormous societal engagement with the reality of climate change to build cross- party political support for the necessary decarbonisation. To date, our society as a whole – government and citizens, business, agriculture and media – has failed to make the necessary collective effort to understand and set an emission-cutting course to deal with climate change. It may still be possible to chart a transition course to regain climate stability, if we act strongly and quickly at every level – local, national and global – focusing on the global.

Any feasible +2ºC National Mitigation Plan requires a pathway of steadily declining emissions, decreasing year on year up to 2050 and beyond. To achieve sustained and substantial reductions, annual emissions cuts of 5% or more per year are likely to be necessary. A +2ºC pathway very likely requires energy emissions to be cut by 80% within 15 years, requiring peat and coal use for energy and heating to be phased out very rapidly. This kind of change will require a national emergency level of effort to enable Ireland to play its part in the global challenge of climate change. Only through hard and enforced caps on emissions can conservation and efficiency savings be realised – otherwise local and national efforts are likely to be futile in achieving effective climate action to limit warming.

Agriculture and transport emissions, currently rising, will also need to drop fast, and be costed for, within traded systems aligned with the +2ºC target to realise efficiencies effectively. Low GHG land use, renewable energy, a timetable for rail electrification and networked public transport are needed. Rising taxes on all GHGs embodied in foods, goods and services will be needed for society’s transition to a low carbon future. Consumption of these high GHG products is irreversibly and dangerously compromising the future of the global economy for all generations to come. A very different low carbon economy is needed.

Climate justice, fairly sharing the remaining global carbon budget for +2ºC, to enable sustainable development for poorer countries and future generations, requires an equitable rationing of the remaining global carbon budget among nations, among citizens and through time. A primary task of Ireland’s new independent Climate Change Advisory Council must be to assess Ireland’s approximate equitable share of the +2ºC global carbon budget based on the best available peer-reviewed modeling and evidence.

In this regard, An Taisce’s analysis suggests that the current National Policy Position is wholly inadequate. It evades statement of a cumulative carbon budget, fails to define a specific pathway of emission reductions, allows increased near-term emissions, does not even acknowledge (never mind respect) the moral obligations of climate justice, is sectorally biased (without any articulated basis or criteria), and tacitly commits future Governments and Irish citizens to progressively more unachievable rates of decarbonisation. The National Policy Position is vague, unscientific, sectorally biased and morally unjust. Its apparent intent is to avoid public discussion and evade political decision-making. It will be up to the Climate Change Advisory Council to present independently evidenced, unbiased and equitable, alternative carbon-budgeted pathways that accord with the +2ºC limit in place of this fundamentally flawed NPP. The time for procrastination is over. Meaningful political decisions have to be made.

A National Mitigation Plan and any reality-based +2ºC transition pathway requires far more urgent and radical change to Ireland’s economy and society than the NPP or the DECLG consultation document envisage. A Plan for total emissions from energy, food, goods and services to go to near-zero net carbon by 2050 is critical to limit risk of near term climate impacts to levels still compatible with managed adaptation, and then to ensure sustainability for future generations.

Summary of An Taisce’s NMP Submission: Nine key points

  1. A cap on TOTAL future national greenhouse gas emissions is critical to realising effective climate policy. Otherwise, short-term, apparent savings in energy and cost will be spent at some point in the future, by us or by others, thereby wiping out local and sectoral efforts. Savings in CO2 emissions have to be ‘forever’ to be meaningful (net CO2 emission rate must go to zero). Cuts in emission rates of other short lived greenhouse gases (especially methane), mainly from agriculture, need to be deep and essentially permanent to effectively limit global warming. Permanent reductions in agricultural emission rates are possible while still maintaining or, better, growing, total nutritional output. By contrast, the rhetoric of ‘flat-lining’ agricultural emissions (i.e., failing to cut emission rates) is not mitigation at all. It is obfuscation.

  2. The National Mitigation Plan requires a fully independent expert assessment by the Climate Change Advisory Committee of the equitable future remaining carbon budget for Ireland. This stated goal is the national fair claim on the global carbon budget (based on a prudent chance of limiting global warming to a maximum of +2ºC above pre-industrial – i.e., with probability significantly better than a reckless 50:50 coin toss). This goal is needed to state the necessary ambition in line with our international commitments to act in accord with science and equity.

  3. Climate science and policy analysis in the IPCC’s recent Fifth Assessment Report shows that the world and Ireland requires a target of ZERO nett carbon emissions by soon after 2050 to possibly limit warming to less than +2ºC. (We discount here any policy that would instead rely on entirely speculative availability of large scale “negative emissions” technology in the second half of this century: such policy would essentially gamble our children’s very survival just to avoid confronting our own clear and present responsibilities; it would be morally and ethically indefensible.)

  4. We assume that the CCAC will choose to carry out an urgent assessment of possible alternative transition pathways that meet Ireland’s equitable future remaining carbon budget. If other nations do not follow then climate chaos is certain. Ireland must lead with a Plan that respects the science and equity for a +2ºC limit. Otherwise, we are accepting failure and planning for disaster.

  5. As part of NMP planning, prior to and alongside CCAC assessment, Government needs to present a well-funded, continuing and coordinated strategy of engagement with the Irish people to greatly increase awareness of the benefits of urgent, pro- active, and radical climate change action – and the essentially incalculable potential costs of continuing delay. This honest dialogue has been postponed for far too long and is now vital to ensure future political commitment for the climate action a realistic NMP implies.

  6. In parallel the NMP requires concentrated and sustained Irish international diplomacy to push for strong EU action to cap total future EU and global emissions as soon as possible. This will be extremely difficult to achieve, of course; but without clear and unilateral commitment at home, it will be all but impossible.

  7. Political leadership, backed by increased public understanding and all-party political support, will need to decide the most achievable and feasible pathway within the above constraints. To date, Governments have failed to indicate the level of burden- sharing between sectors. This cannot continue, a strong evidence-based debate is needed. Evasion cannot go on, hard decisions have to be made.

  8. The analysis presented in this document by An Taisce strongly suggests that the National Policy Position, as currently stated, is not fit for purpose. It does not specify a pathway or cumulative target (unlike the EU 2020 Non-ETS target). Further, it is biased towards sheltering agricultural emissions in particular, without any objective explanation or justification.

  9. Instead of relying on the current highly dangerous path of continuous growth in material consumption, based on high GHG policy in energy production, transport and livestock agriculture, we can choose equitable resilience through societal change, low carbon energy and land-use change to forestry, renewables, and improved energy efficiency – within a GHG cap.

Our current course is locked into denial of the implications of climate science and the demands of human equity: it can lead only to despair. But if based in reality, Ireland’s NMP can support other nations around the world to do the same, to limit emissions urgently and deeply, and so meaningfully limit climate change. We can set out on such a hopeful and equitable path by starting now. But the first, unavoidable, challenge is to state clearly and honestly how perilous our situation has already become.

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City Centre Transport Plan

10th August 2015
Submission Summary

An Taisce is very supportive of the vision for Dublin City Centre as per the plans of Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority. The realisation of these plans will facilitate greatly in the process of making Dublin a much healthier city and one that visitors and residents will choose to spend more time in. With the emphasis on high quality public transport, extensive pedestrian-friendly zones and a much more serious integration of cycle friendly principles into the designs, this will ensure that Dublin becomes much more like continental city centres (such as Nantes or Copenhagen) in which the sustainable modes are given the greatest priority and the city centre experience is a far better one.

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Septic Tanks: A Report on the Progress of the National Inspection Plan (2013 - 2015)

13th August 2015
Report

This report on behalf of An Taisce examines the progress of the EPA’s National Inspection Plan (NIP) for Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems (DWWTS); in particular, septic tanks.

The NIP was borne out of Ireland’s efforts to comply with the EU Waste Framework Directive, which culminated in the amendment of the Water Services Act in 2012. The Water Services (Amendment) Act responded to the ruling of the European Court of Justice over Ireland’s failure to adopt sufficient legislation and regulatory measures regarding domestic wastewater in rural areas. As specified in the act, the NIP would be formulated by the EPA and attempt to remedy Ireland’s shortcomings by initiating an annual septic tank inspection regime and citizen engagement strategy.

There are currently over 500,000 DWWTSs in Ireland serving rural households (many of which are septic tanks) and research indicates that a sizable proportion of these systems are either inadequately designed, incorrectly located, poorly maintained or situated in or near areas at high risk from contamination. It is thus patently clear that present and future management of DWWTSs in Ireland needs to be improved.

The NIP is central towards ensuring that DWWTSs throughout Ireland are properly constructed, maintained and ultimately pose a minimal threat to human health and the environment. However, it is the view of this report that – some recent progress notwithstanding – the NIP has largely been found wanting and will not be able to achieve its objectives unless several of its core components are re-evaluated and modified.

The primary purpose of this report is to draw attention to what is a significant, still-burgeoning issue through a descriptive and prescriptive analysis of the NIP’s implementation thus far. As the DWWTSs scenario in Ireland is an issue likely to gain increased momentum in the coming months, it is believed that this report arrives at a timely moment in the NIP’s lifespan and may be of some consequence to environmentalists with a casual or vested interest in the subject of DWWTSs.

Simon Mooney

Simon Mooney is a Research Intern with An Taisce's Built Environment Office.

simon.mooney@ucdconnect.ie

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An Taisce queries Minister Humphreys on proposed new accommodation of Star Wars filming on Skellig Michael.

26th August 2015
Press Release

Last week, An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland wrote to Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht, with queries on the proposed accommodation of another round of filming of Star Wars on Skellig Michael. The first round of filming, last year was facilitated in breach of long established conservation policy for the World Heritage Site.

Ian Lumley, Heritage Office with An Taisce stated

"Existing levels of visitor activity are already at the level of or slightly in excess of what would be best for a site of this sensitivity, and even with current restrictions, wear and tear is visible. Therefore nothing unnecessary should be permitted, as is normal policy for the whole island, including the monastic remains.

An Taisce believes the site has not just extraordinary beauty, value and presence, but that the site is very fragile and none of it was ever intended for the human numbers and the levels of activity already occurring during the summer season.

The island is also of extreme importance to the colonies of birds it supports. Given the approximate dates for the proposed filming this year, mid -September, there will still be considerable numbers of the two priority- listed bird species on the island, Manx Shearwaters and Storm- Petrels. "

An Taisce have been seeking information on the effects on the site of the last round of filming and and have specifically asked the Minister about the Legal Status of the project and details of the site impact and mitigation plans the Department and NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) propose.

Legal Status:

  1. What is the legal and consent status of the project?
  2. What screening has been carried out with regard to potential requirement for Environmental Impact assessment?
  3. What screening has been carried out for Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive?

Site Impact – Mitigation.

  1. Without prejudice to the legal issues raised above, what mitigation measures and DAHG/NPWS supervisory measures are proposed to address the range of issues and concerns in this letter.

An Taisce's letter to Misiter Humphreys http://www.antaisce.org/sites/antaisce.org/files/re_proposed_star_wars_filming_on_skellig_michael_world_heritage_site.pdf

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

News Source Name: 
An Taisce

Mobilising for COP 21 in Paris - Stop Climate Chaos Proposal

27th August 2015
Report

BACKGROUND
COP21 in Paris this December represents an important moment in the struggle to tackle climate change. For two weeks (30th November – 11th December) leaders and teams of negotiators will be locked away in Le Bourget to hammer out a new global deal on climate change. While a new global deal is fundamental, it is only one piece of the puzzle in preventing runaway climate change. Citizens from around the world will be on the streets in Paris demanding that leaders take note of their calls.

Civil society will not focus on demands from the process, but rather will focus on concerns about energy and food, tackling those who are standing in the way of climate action, and showing the strength of our movement. COP21 is being described as the beginning, not the end. It is a moment to show to the world the diversity and growing numbers in the climate movement. With that in mind, citizens will take to the streets of Paris on Saturday 12th December to show the determination of the movement to continue fighting for climate action and to have the last word of the negotiations.

ACTIVIST EXPERIENCE
Stop Climate Chaos is offering to facilitate a group of people to travel to Paris to participate in actions on 11th and 12th December. There will be diverse actions for people to get involved with on Friday 11th, while on Saturday 12th one massive march will take place. Stop Climate would like to see an Irish block participate in the march on Saturday. The proximity of the negotiations to Ireland provides a golden opportunity to engage people with an exciting, tangible activist experience that will help grow and consolidate the climate movement in Ireland.

Stop Climate Chaos will coordinate the travel and accommodation for an Irish group on the basis that member organisations take responsibility for recruiting people to participate and supervising these people while in Paris. The Stop Climate Chaos Coordinator will be the contact point before and during the COP. Coalition Climat 21 is the French coalition of civil society organisations, networks and movements acting as hosts and coordinators for all of civil society to engage with COP 21. The SCC Coordinator is liaising with the team in relation to accommodations, logistics etc. Please visit their website for more information.

TRAVEL

OPTION 1: Dublin to Paris by Private Bus Hire and Ferry
Wednesday 9th December Travel to France: Introductions and overview of COP 21 on bus 17.00 Depart Dublin 20.30 Arrive Rosslare – check in as foot passengers
21.30 Depart Rosslare by ferry (Irish Ferries Oscar Wilde)

Thursday 10th December Travel to France: Plans for mobilisations on ferry journey 17.00 Arrive Cherbourg 22.00 Arrive Paris

Friday 11th Action in Paris: Free to participate in any actions Participate in actions/demonstrations (e.g. FoE International’s mobilisation)

Saturday 12th Action in Paris: Participate in march as Irish block 13.00 Participate in march

Saturday 12th/Sunday 13th Return to Ireland: Debrief and plans for 2016

Option 1
Sat 12th departure
15.30 - Depart Paris 20.30 - Arrive Cherbourg
21.30 - Depart Cherbourg (Irish Ferries Oscar Wilde)

Sunday 13th 14.30 - Arrive Rosslare
18.00 - Arrive Dublin

Option 2
Sun 13th departure
10.00 - Depart Paris
14.45 – Arrive Cherbourg
15.45 - Depart Cherbourg (Stena Line)

Monday 14th 08.15 - Arrive Rosslare
12.00 - Arrive Dublin

Cost: approx. €200 per person (incl. bus, ferry ticket and shared cabin)
Anchor Tours: €184 per person, based on 49 people travelling; min 20 people must travel. Ferry incl. shared cabin = €134 + €50 pp coach hire (€2500 for 5 day hire)
Marathon Travel: €219 per person, based on 41-53 people travelling; €259 for 31-40 people.

OPTION 2: Dublin to Paris by public transport and Ferry Wednesday 9th December Travel to France: Introductions and overview of COP 21 on bus
17.30 Depart Dublin Connolly (3 hour train journey to Rosslare)
20.00 Arrive Rosslare Europort
21.30 Depart Rosslare by ferry (Irish Ferries Oscar Wilde)

Thursday 10th December Travel to France: Plans for mobilisations on ferry journey
17.00 Arrive Cherbourg
17.37 Depart Cherbourg (3 hour train journey to Paris)
20.45 Arrive Paris

Friday 11th Action in Paris: Free to participate in any actions
Participate in activities (e.g. FoE International’s mobilisation)

Saturday 12th Action in Paris: Participate in march as Irish block
13.00 Participate in march

Saturday 12th/Sunday 13th Return to Ireland: Debrief and plans for 2016

Option 1
Sat 12th departure

Train time tbc - Depart Paris
Time tbc - Arrive Cherbourg
21.30 - Depart Cherbourg (Irish Ferries Oscar Wilde)

Sunday 13th 14.30 - Arrive Rosslare
18.35 – Depart Rosslare
21.30 - Arrive Dublin

Option 2
Sun 13th departure Train time tbc - Depart Paris
Time tbc – Arrive Cherbourg
15.45 - Depart Cherbourg (Stena Line)

Monday 14th 08.15 - Arrive Rosslare
12.55 – Depart Rosslare
15.45 - Arrive Dublin

Cost: approx. €223 per person Rail ticket (Dublin-Rosslare return): €38 Ferry ticket (Rosslare-Cherbourg return): €120 Rail ticket (Cherbourg-Paris return): €60 approx.

ACCOMMODATION
The following options for accommodation are available:

  1. collective accommodation (in gymnasia in Paris or in the suburbs but always near public transport in order to facilitate mobility): This option is possible from the 4th of December until the 12th and is a free option. Coalition Climat 21 still don't know how many gymnasia they will have but in order to get a place in a gymnasium, we will have to inform the logistics people in Coalition Climate 21 of the number of people in our group and the dates required.
  2. hosted in someone's house in Paris: Coalition Climat 21 will set up a public forum on their website (live from around the 20th of September) for exchanges between people offering accommodation and people searching for it. In most cases people will offer their accommodation for free (or at low cost to include breakfast)
  3. cheap hotels (less than 30 euros): Coalition Climat 21 has provided a list of cheap hostels/hotels which we can book independently if this is the preferred option for accommodation in Paris for the Irish group.
  4. Air BnB: apartments can be booked independently if this is the preferred option for accommodation in Paris for the group, however availability is expected to be limited and prices at a premium for the duration of the COP.

FUNDING

The funding model for people to travel to Paris has yet to be decided. Possible options include:

  • Costs covered by activists – this will mean those travelling are likely to be more committed as they’ve paid for it themselves but it may limit the numbers who will participate
  • Costs covered by SCC/members organisations – this is likely to result in greater interest/numbers but may not be financially feasible (SCC secretariat does not have the budget to cover this)
  • Costs subsidised by SCC/member organisations – this may be an appropriate compromise but may still prohibit some people (especially young people) from participating
  • Sponsorship – this may be possible to obtain but has risks in terms of corporate greenwashing
  • The funding model will be discussed and decided by the Steering group of Stop Climate Chaos.

MEDIA
Stop Climate Chaos expects to generate media coverage for the trip, both on departure from Ireland and while in Paris.

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Please Support the National Youth Forum for Engagement with Climate Change

27th August 2015
Report

COP-21 (the international climate summit) takes place in Paris this December. The aim is to reach a universal, legally binding agreement which will enable us to mitigate and prevent further anthropogenic climate change and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies. The Irish delegation has never included a representative of young people, nor had any consultation to seek their input. Since climate change will affect the lives of young people beyond all others, and any long term targets or promises made by our delegation will in fact need to be fulfilled by our young people; it is a matter of grave injustice that they be excluded from the decision-making process.

In July, President Higgins proposed that what is needed is an inclusive, humane, non-judgmental engagement with the voices of those most affected by climate change and that we need to place those people at the centre of proposed solutions. We must acknowledge the intelligence, creativity and moral courage that young people can bring to the table and the value of their inclusion in this challenge. They may come up with solutions that the rest of us would never dream of!

An Taisce, with the support of other NGO’s, development charities and children’s charities proposes to create a National Youth Forum for Engagement with Climate Change to remedy that injustice, but we need help. An Taisce’s Advocacy Unit, receives no support outside of membership and cannot carry the total costs of this initiative. Various corporate groups have been approached for support, but while everyone agrees that climate safety and justice for young people are worth fighting for, none of them have put their money where their mouth is. Thus it comes down to the people of Ireland themselves: a crowdfunding campaign has been launched for everyone – individuals, businesses and organisations to support this initiative. (See: https://www.icrowdfund.ie/campaigns/the-national-youth-forum-for-engagement-with-climate-change/) If successful, it will allow the National Youth Forum for Engagement with Climate Change to come into being. If not, Ireland’s young people will remain voiceless in the decisions that will determine their fate and safety. This is an All-or-Nothing campaign which will run until the 10th of September; if the target is not met no charge will be made. All support is greatly appreciated. We also welcome offers of partnership should you or your business wish to be more involved.

AIM:
To develop a platform for young people to:

  • Give them a voice; for their ideas and concerns about Climate Change and Climate Justice to be heard.
  • Access basic information on climate change and develop understanding through peer education.
  • Engage in creating solutions at a community and national level as we gear up for COP21 Paris.
  • Encourage leadership from the youth up. Through these young people, communities will be taken on a journey towards Paris and beyond.

ACTIONS:

  • Create a web platform to facilitate young people’s Engagement in their own locality. They will have access to information on the IPCC report (explained in a clear, understandable way), create discussion groups, polls and events, invite speakers (talks delivered by video), seek support for local projects, peer-educate and mobilise each other.
  • Unite organisations to bring together the diverse voices of their young members.
  • Of vital importance is the engagement of all young people, particularly those uninvolved with youth groups or climate change issues so far. It is a matter of Justice that young people who will bear the brunt of climate change impacts should have the opportunity to learn and do something about it. For that reason, the forum will be widely disseminated through student councils, sports and arts clubs and using social media.
  • At the end of October, 5 regional meetings will be facilitated around the country for young people to come together to charter their common interests and their proposals for consideration by the Irish delegation ahead of COP21. CiviQ have pledged operational support for the project. They will set up an Opinion Stream at these regional meetings which will allow us to collate and analyse the ways in which young people propose that we respond to Climate Change.

OUTCOMES:
This initiative will be run by and for young people. The encouragement to work and act together to safeguard their own and Ireland’s future, will mobilise youth leadership in community initiatives and engagement in the global decisions made in Paris.

This project has enormous potential to give Ireland's young people a voice in these decisions and to create momentum for change through a robust, well informed, enthusiastic and engaged body of young people. Through them, Ireland can become a leader in Climate Justice.

Beyond Paris, this forum will allow young leaders who have been motivated through the project to continue to engage with each other and their communities on these issues. This grassroots community approach to tackling climate change, in combination with top-down policy change is essential for a timely enough shift towards climate safety, for Ireland and our shared planet.

For more information contact Alannah Ní Cheallaigh-Mhuirí at climate@antaisce.org or on 0892275561.

If you want to help, there is a crowdfunding page at https://www.icrowdfund.ie/campaigns/the-national-youth-forum-for-engagement-with-climate-change/

Internationally Important Irish Archaeological Monument Being Destroyed During Heritage Week 2015

27th August 2015
Press Release

Minister Humphreys’ Deptartment fails to act

While Irish heritage is being celebrated and promoted this week, the destruction of a major archaeological monument, a major timber-built road of European significance at Mayne Bog, Coole, County Westmeath is continuing.

Although the National Monuments Service (NMS, the responsibility of Minister Heather Humphreys) has known since 2005 about the existence of the monument, they have failed to act to preserve it.

The road or Togher was discovered in 2005 and was reported by a concerned local resident, rather than the landowner or the industrial peat company Westland Horticulture who are extracting compost from the site.

The National Monuments Service subsequently instigated the excavation of a few meters of the 657m long roadway, which established that:

  • The monument was a substantial transversely laid plank built roadway.
  • It was no mere trackway, it measured from 4.3m to 6m in width.
  • The recorded length of the road was 675m, but it was seen to extend beyond both recorded limits.
  • A carbon14 date of 1200-820 BC was obtained from the timbers, making it a remarkable structure of Bronze Age date, 1000 years older than the celebrated Corlea Bog roadway in neighbouring County Longford.

The excavators recommended further archaeological work but this was never acted upon. What did happen was that peat extraction work continued unabated. What is worse is that the monument was never even properly listed or given any legal protection.

In a letter dated 30th June 2015 sent to An Taisce it was stated that: ‘The monument is not currently entered in the statutory Record of Monuments & Places (RMP) for County Westmeath…[nor is] the monument included in the Register of Historic Monuments’.

The Department’s National Monument’s Service has known about this monument since 2005. That was 10 years ago.

The Department’s NMS determined the date and type of the monument in 2006. That was 9 years ago.

Nevertheless it was only in the wake of representations from An Taisce in early 2014 that the Minister’s Department finally took further action. A small second excavation was instigated and a general suggestion was made to preserve-in-situ an element of the road/togher ‘to the east of the development site’. Nothing has been done about this, as far as we can gather, so the destruction continues. The Department suggests that co-operation with the landowning company will solve the issue; this is the same company that relentlessly inflicted so much damage upon the togher over the last decade.

The Minister’s current position is equally puzzling. The 30th June letter states

‘Given the co-operation so far secured from the landowner in this context, it is not considered that further steps under the National Monuments Acts (whether entry in the Register of Historic Monuments or the making of a preservation order) would be useful or warranted at this stage.’

If there is going to be a section of the timber-built road preserved-in-situ towards the eastern side of the site, it is going to require a preservation order to guarantee its survival. It is also imperative that the surviving elements of the monument are properly entered in the Register of Historic Monuments. To fail to act on both aspects could only be reasonably described as a total dereliction of duty.

Why was this significant monument not declared a National Monument in 2005/2006 and thus afforded full protection? Why was peat extraction work allowed to continue unabated for the past 9/10 years leading to the destruction of 75% of the monument? One might reasonably suggest that had external objections not been raised to the apparent indifference of the State, the destruction of the roadway would, by now, have been complete.

Professor John Waddell, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at National University Galway, noted that in terms of size, age, and antiquity the Mayne road is truly of European significance and is on a par with those preserved in dedicated heritage centres like Wittemoor in Lower Saxony, Flag Fen in Peterborough (UK), and Corlea in County Longford.

A number of objects were recovered from the area of the crossing point of the river and are now stored in the National Museum of Ireland – a bronze sword, a kite-shaped bronze spearhead, a second spearhead, and a bronze ‘doorknob’ spear-butt. The latter object is of Iron Age date. This establishes that the roadway continued in use over a considerable amount of time.

Dr. Patrick Wallace, recently retired Director of the National Museum of Ireland commented

‘The possibility of unearthing a run of Bronze Age roadway in the neighbouring county to one already blessed with an Iron Age equivalent is culturally mouth-watering. Its possible destruction would be an international calamity’.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES

People and Planet First: The Imperative to Change Course

27th August 2015
Report

To mark the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, some 200 invited participants attended the above conference in the Vatican in July. This was a highly significant event confirming the commitment of Pope Francis to the themes of environmental stewardship and tackling climate change. This very readable document was his first encyclical and in it the Pope called for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality. In what was an endorsement of the environmental movement from the world’s oldest and largest international organisation, Pope Francis also called for urgent and far reaching cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, including moving away from fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources. As part of a lead-up to the crucial Paris Conference in November, when a global agreement is hoped for, the encyclical provided a powerful contribution and stressed the need for an internationally supervised agreement to ensure national and local efforts deliver on their commitments. He emphasised the need to move away from a solely economics-based view of the natural world and reminded people that climate change is essentially a moral and ethical problem. Our disconnect with the natural world is leading, he says, to an ecological crisis of our own making as our ‘throw away’ society destroys ‘our common home’.

The main theme of the conference was that of climate justice, essentially that the burdens imposed by the main greenhouse gas emitters on the poor should be recompensed and that the ‘polluter pays’ principle should be recognised. Speakers, including Mary Robinson and best-selling author Naomi Klein, as well as those with on-the-ground experience of climate injustice from Amazonia and central Africa presented highly compelling presentations in support of this theme. Irish attendees included representatives of Trocaire, Fr. Sean McDonagh, and Professor John Sweeney.

The issues raised are highly relevant to Ireland, which has one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates in the world. It is also relevant to the weak Climate and Low Carbon Development Bill, currently making its way through the Oireachtas. In the encyclical itself, Pope Francis was particularly critical of the failings of political leadership and praised the work of non-governmental organisations and civil society groups in holding politicians, paralysed by vested interest groups into inaction, to account.