The construction of the M3 motorway through County Meath including a section running past the ancient Hill of Tara is given the go ahead.
The row between both sides over the routing of the new road has been long and vociferous. Conservationists want it moved away from Tara, the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and the place where St Patrick faced down the Druids, but the government has maintained that no other option was viable.
Minister for the Environment Dick Roche today said that his role is to provide directions on archaeological investigations should the need arise, and not to second guess the planning process.
At a government press conference today the minister reminded those present that specific conditions have been laid down in regard to the road's construction.
These include additional resources and time available for archaeology prior to construction, modification to the lighting schemes, and a commitment from Meath County Council that development will be limited along the motorway.
Arrangements within planning law that would allow the Minister for the Environment myself or a successor at some stage to intervene if anything inappropriate was going in there.
Fine Gael have given their support the plan, but the Labour Party believed time and money could have been saved by changing the route as originally envisaged, and according to Eamon Gilmore TD,
This country will have lost the heritage of Tara.
The Green Party also wanted the road moved, and Ciarán Cuffe TD says his party is considering taking legal action,
Allowing the road to go ahead may well end up in the courts.
No completion date has been set for this project, and the minister could not say how much it will cost. A budget of €30 million has been set aside for archaeological work, given that it is Tara, it may well end up being higher.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 11 May 2005. The reporter is Paul Cunningham.