Recent actions relating to the construction of the M3 motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley reveal the Irish Government to be in direct contravention of both Agenda 21 and the World Heritage Convention.

We the undersigned urgently call upon the United Nations to intervene, and to demand that the Irish Government halt work on the M3. It is imperative that an alternative route and plan be examined, one that does not cut through this heritage site of international importance, and one that is in accordance with the principles of Agenda 21and the World Heritage Convention.


TO:
Sha Zukang United Nations Undersecretary General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Juanita Castano, United Nations Environment Program UNEPA NY Office
Mr Francesco Bandarin, Director, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris, France

cc:
Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, Brussels, Belgium
EU Commission, New York
EU Commission, Washington, DC
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Department of the Taoiseach, Dublin, Ireland
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, Dublin, Ireland
Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government John Gormley, Dublin, Ireland
Paul Murray, Ambassador, Permanent Delegation of Ireland to UNESCO, Paris
Irish Mission to the UN: Second Committee Issue Delegates Kevin Dowling, Denise McQuade, Patricia Cullen

Dear Mr. Sha Zukang, Ms. Castano and M. Bandarin,

Ireland claims to be in compliance with Agenda 21 and its principles of Sustainable Development Law: a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment. It includes the following principles:
Principle 1 Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
Principle 3 The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
Principle 4 In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.
Principle 7 States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem...
Principle 8 To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.
Principle 10 Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.

Similarly, in its ratification of the 1972 World Heritage Convention, Ireland pledged to conserve not only the world heritage sites situated on its territory, but also to protect its national heritage.
This document defines sites as "works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view."
It goes on to state that it is the duty of each State Party to the Convention to ensure "the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage ... situated on its territory" and that the state is bound by the agreement to "do all it can to this end, to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, with any international assistance and co-operation, in particular, financial, artistic, scientific and technical, which it may be able to obtain."
Further, in order "to ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory, each State Party to this Convention shall endeavour, in so far as possible, and as appropriate for each country:
(a) to adopt a general policy which aims to give the cultural and natural heritage a function in the life of the community and to integrate the protection of that heritage into comprehensive planning programmes;
(b) to set up within its territories, where such services do not exist, one or more services for the protection, conservation, and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage with an appropriate staff and possessing the means to discharge their functions;
(c) to develop scientific and technical studies and research and to work out such operating methods as will make the State capable of counteracting the dangers that threaten its cultural or natural heritage;
(d) to take the appropriate legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary for the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and rehabilitation of this heritage; and
(e) to foster the establishment or development of national or regional centers for training in the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage and to encourage scientific research in this field."

However, the Application of the World Heritage Convention by the State's Parties with regard to Ireland states that "Inventories, established at national and local levels, have not been used as a basis for selecting World Heritage sites" and that "fragmentation of services for protection, conservation and presentation and the lack of research and training programmes also weaken their efforts to ensure site protection." In spite of these admissions there were "no proposed further actions."

Recent actions relating to the construction of the M3 motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley reveal the Irish Government to be in direct contravention of both Agenda 21 and the World Heritage Convention.

We the undersigned urgently call upon the United Nations to intervene, and to demand that the Irish Government halt work on the M3. It is imperative that an alternative route and plan be examined, one that does not cut through this heritage site of international importance, and one that is in accordance with the principles of Agenda 21and the World Heritage Convention.

Signed:
An Taisce
CELT (Centre for Environmental Living and Training)
Coomhola Salmon Trust
EcoUnesco
Forest Friends
Friends of the Irish Environment
Gluaiseacht
Grian
Irish Doctors Environment Association
Irish Natural Forestry Foundation
Irish Seal Sanctuary
Just Forests
Sustainable Ireland Cooperative Society Ltd.
The Organic Centre
The Woodland League
Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE)

 

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