National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The protection of our archaeological heritage has been a primary concern of Government since the foundation of the State. This is clear from the considerable body of protective legislation which has been enacted over the years, in particular the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 1994. Ireland has also ratified the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, known as the Valetta Convention. In implementing this legislation, the national monuments section of my Department has developed a broad administrative and professional structure to oversee the protection of our archaeological heritage.

The scale of development in recent years, as a result of our economic success, has presented a greater challenge to the protection and preservation of our archaeological heritage. Over that time, we have striven to maintain a good balance between development needs and archaeological protection to achieve sustainable development. The high level of excavation for development purposes has added considerably to our store of knowledge about our past. There are many examples of a good balance being achieved between conservation and development.

The background to this specific amending legislation, while complex, will be familiar to Members of the House. I will now summarise the main issues. On foot of an injunction granted by the Supreme Court in February 2003 restraining Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council from undertaking any works in the vicinity of Carrickmines Castle, work on the section of the south-eastern motorway in the vicinity of the site was suspended last year pending the granting of a consent under section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930. The work involved had been carried out under section 26 excavation licences, but the effect of the court judgment was that a consent under the much less frequently used section 14 was appropriate in this case.

At the request of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, I joined in a consent for works at Carrickmines Castle. In accordance with the legislation then existing, I also made the National Monuments (Approval of Joint Consent) Order 2003 on 3 July 2003. This was then laid before each House of the Oireachtas as required.

I assure the House that the decisions were not made lightly. A total of 23 submissions relating to the case were received and considered. Of these, 17 submissions supported the early completion of the project and there were six objections. I also had regard to the advice of my Department's national monuments section regarding further conditions to be inserted in the joint consent to ensure that the works to be undertaken at Carrickmines would be carried out in accordance with best archaeological practice.

The national monuments legislation has always envisaged that it may be necessary, in certain cases, to interfere with a national monument. These can be for reasons of public health and safety, in the interests of archaeology or for other reasons. In this case, the application from the road authority, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, was expressly made on public interest grounds and it was in this context that the order was made.

My decision at the time was based on the overall assessment that the public interest in allowing construction of the south-eastern motorway along its approved route justified consenting to the works impacting on archaeology at the site. In my view it had been satisfactorily demonstrated that a systematic approach was adopted by the county council to the archaeological resolution of the Carrickmines site and that the archaeological work undertaken would preserve the main archaeological elements of the site, either by record orin situ.

On the 23 December 2003, an application for a judicial review of these decisions was made. Following hearings in the High Court and Supreme Court, the High Court held that the Heritage (Transfer of Functions of Commissioners of Public Works) Order 1996, in so far as it purported to transfer the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works under section 14(1)(a) of the National Monuments Acts to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht, was outside the powers conferred on the Government under the Ministers and Secretaries Acts. A 2002 transfer order was similarly found to be invalid. Consequently, the High Court quashed the approval order issued by me. The court stated that a “technical glitch” had led to its decision. As I already stated, one of the purposes of this Bill is to resolve this matter.

It is not surprising that legislation which is more than 70 years old needs amendment to meet modern regulatory requirements. For example, environmental impact assessments, which include assessment of archaeological impacts and appropriate mitigation measures, are requirements for development consent for some considerable time but were not a feature in the 1930s.

The Bill clarifies the roles of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism and the Commissioners of Public Works under the National Monuments Acts so that there is no doubt raised arising from previous transfer of functions orders. A new section 14 consent process is set out which resolves the technical difficulty to which I referred earlier while also being in line with current best regulatory practice. The Bill also provides that road schemes where an approval process includes an EIA setting out archaeological mitigation do not need further licences under the Act. However, the Minister can issue directions in respect of the mitigation. A procedure for dealing with newly discovered national monuments on such approved road schemes, which have not been identified in the EIS, is also provided. The Bill also contains a specific provision in respect of the completion of the south-eastern motorway at Carrickmines.

Section 1 is a standard provision which defines the term "principal Act" as meaning the National Monuments Act 1930. Section 2 deletes the definition of Minister from the 1930 Act because it is now dealt with in section 3 and defines the word "works" as including development works of national, regional or local importance.

Section 3 is to clarify the roles of various Ministers following a number of transfer of functions orders. It defines the Minister, for the purposes of the National Monuments Acts, as being the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, unless the context requires otherwise. Where a reference in the Acts relates to the function of the day-to-day administration of any property in the guardianship, ownership or management of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Minister for Finance is defined as the Minister. This reflects the agreement last year that the Office of Public Works is responsible for the operational aspects of heritage properties. The functions vested in the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism under the various transfer of departmental administration and ministerial functions orders and other functions of the Minister for Finance under the Acts are not affected by this section of the Bill.

Section 4, for the avoidance of doubt, confirms the transfers of functions previously vested in the Commissioners of Public Works under the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 1994, and which were not previously transferred to the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or the Minister for Finance, as appropriate.

Section 5 replaces section 14 of the principal Act. Section 14 of the 1930 Act allowed the Minister to grant a consent for the carrying out of works to a national monument, notwithstanding that such works may involve injury to, interference with, or the destruction, in whole or in part, of the monument. I propose to replace section 14 with a new section 14 and sections 14A, B and C.

Section 14 now sets out a single tier process for consenting to works which interfere with national monuments in the ownership of the Minister, a local authority or where a preservation order is in force. This section sets out the factors which the Minister may take into account in reaching a decision on the matter. These include archaeological, environmental, cultural, social, recreational and economic reasons. Where a consent under this section is granted, a separate excavation licence will not be required. The Minister is obliged to consult the director of the National Museum of Ireland before granting any such consent.

There is also provision for increased penalties in respect of interference with a national monument without the necessary consent. For example, the penalty arising from a conviction on indictment will rise from €62,000 to €10 million. The new section 14A provides that the consent of the Minister is not required for works affecting a national monument where the works are connected with an approved road development. This is because the approval process for such roads includes consideration of an environmental impact statement which will have identified the archaeological impacts involved and the extent of the mitigation required. Neither will a separate excavation licence be required. This approach is in line with Government policy on better regulation which seeks to avoid duplication of approval processes.

However, as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, I will be able to issue directions in relation to any works of an archaeological nature to be undertaken on such a road development to ensure that best practice is followed. I will consult the director of the National Museum of Ireland on directions. Much time and effort goes into locating archaeology during the route planning process for road schemes with a view to avoiding such sites to the maximum extent possible or, where this is not possible, to mitigating impacts.

Scrutiny of old records, site walk-overs and aerial photographs have, in recent years, been supplemented by techniques such as geophysical surveying to gain an impression of what may lie below the ground. However, this approach is not entirely conclusive and the full picture can only be determined accurately when the topsoil is removed or other intrusive investigation techniques are employed. Given the nature of archaeology, often unknown and beneath the ground, it is necessary to provide for the mitigation of new monuments of national significance notwithstanding the rigorous environmental assessment and approval process in respect of new road development.

Section 14A, therefore, sets out the detailed procedure for dealing with national monuments that are newly discovered as part of the road development but which had not been anticipated in the environmental impact statement. I am empowered to issue directions relating to the preservation, mitigation or removal works required, having regard not only to archaeological considerations but also to the public interest considerations set out in the section.

Where such directions require a change to the original approved road development, the road authority is obliged to inform An Bord Pleanála. The detailed procedure to be followed by the board is set out in 14B. It can determine if the changes arising from a ministerial direction are a material alteration to the approved scheme and, if so, whether the change has significant adverse impacts on the environment and whether the change should be subject to an EIS. Section 14C covers previous provisions enabling the Minister to give consent for interference with a monument in the interests of public health and safety.

Section 6 amends section 23 of the 1930 Act which relates to the reporting of the discovery of archaeological objects. In essence, archaeological objects found will be dealt with under the Minister's directions which can deal with how these objects will be delivered to the National Museum of Ireland. This reporting arrangement did not apply to discoveries made under licensed excavations. In line with this exemption, section 6 provides that the reporting requirements do not apply to finds made under section 14, 14A, 14B or 14C.

Section 7 updates the provisions for the making of regulations prescribing licence fees. Section 8 provides that Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will not need to seek any further consent or licence under the National Monuments Acts, in relation to the completion of the south-eastern section of the M50. However, the Bill empowers the Minister to issue directions in respect of archaeological mitigation and sets out the factors which I may consider when deciding on the nature of such directions.

We are all aware that the south-eastern motorway has been subject to a rigorous route selection process and to an environment impact assessment which provides for the mitigation of the archaeology at Carrickmines. The route selection and EIS process had to balance important factors such as impact on existing housing, archaeology, the natural environment, physical constraints etc. The EIS was published and was considered at a public inquiry. Following consideration of the EIS and the report of the inspector, the then Minister for the Environment and Local Government approved the motorway scheme. Following the approval of the motorway scheme, extensive archaeological excavations were carried out which contribute significantly to the national archaeological record, the understanding of the history and changing settlement patterns of south county Dublin and the knowledge of medieval and post-medieval frontier castle life in the area.

Initial archaeological investigations were carried out on the site of Carrickmines Castle between 3 April and 19 May 2000. Full archaeological excavations commenced in August 2000. An archaeological licence was issued under the National Monuments Acts following consultation with the National Museum of Ireland. As the excavations progressed, the full extent of the work necessary for the complete archaeological excavation, resolution and recording of the area gradually became clear. While this had implications for the time and cost of the road project, the National Roads Authority met all its obligations for archaeological mitigation.

Excavation work at Carrickmines was carried out over a period of more than two years. As many as 130 archaeologists worked on the Carrickmines site. Close contact was maintained at all stages during the process of the excavations between the National Roads Authority, the county council and State archaeologists to ensure that best practice was observed in relation to the archaeology uncovered. The excavations were completed in January 2003, by which time areas to be affected by the motorway scheme and which were accessible had been archaeologically resolved either by preservation by record or preservationin situ.

The remaining excavations, such as in the area under the old Glenamuck Road, must await the enactment of this Bill. They will affect less than 10% of the remaining monument which will be preserved for the future. The results of the excavations at Carrickmines, carried out at a total estimated cost in excess of €6 million, have, as I mentioned earlier, significantly enhanced the national archaeological record. What is happening now is that archaeology in Ireland is largely development led and the State is spending a fortune on it. It is right that we should do so. The sums involved are enormous and the State is giving employment to a large number of archaeologists. I have no difficulty with all of that.

It is question of balancing all these issues. One can take the extreme view and ask how long is a piece of string. I have spoken to many of the archaeologists and I have been out to Carrickmines. A magnificent job has been done there. I presume the Deputies opposite have visited the site.

I went out expecting to find a castle. There is no castle. It is a misnomer to say Carrickmines Castle because there is no castle. The site is disappointing because it is technical — beneath the ground. A considerable amount of money has been spent on the work. Over 130 archaeologists have worked on the site and over €6 million has been spent on that section. Most people would agree that is a reasonable, fair and balanced approach to our responsibilities as a nation.

Given the rigorous route selection process and EIA, the very considerable effort and investment into mitigating the archaeology at Carrickmines, and the significant public interest in preventing further delay in the completion of this project, I am satisfied to recommend that this section be enacted to allow the south-eastern motorway to be completed.

Section 9 defines the Short Title, construction, and collective citation of the Act.

I wish to inform the House, because it is important and I appreciate the points being raised by Deputies opposite, that it is my intention later this year to introduce a Bill to update and consolidate the existing national monuments legislation. This will provide an opportunity to consider the whole national monuments code. In the meanwhile my Department continues to make good progress in protecting the archaeological heritage.

The Archaeological Survey of Ireland is proceeding well. Eighteen surveys have been published covering over half the country and I am to publish surveys this year of part of County Sligo and County Longford. Many Deputies have attended some of these launches. These surveys are extremely valuable. In fairness to those doing this work, it is a great effort on their behalf and it provides a tremendous amount of important information at a local level which will paint a picture of the entire country when complete. It is extremely helpful to local authority councillors when making assessments on protecting particular areas and parts of the land area for which they have responsibility and helps them identify what is important.

The quality of these surveys and the other protection work in Ireland is recognised abroad. People are coming to us because they have seen much of this work and are surprised and taken aback at the depth of the archaeological effort being made in Ireland since most of them have nothing comparable. I commend all those involved in this work.

The activities of my Department do not simply relate to research. Over 8,000 development applications are examined annually to assess the impacts on the archaeological heritage, up to 2,000 excavation licences are issued so that this activity is carried out to professional standards. Codes of practice have been agreed with Bord na Móna, the NRA, Coillte, the Irish Concrete Federation and ESB National Grid and I expect to conclude one with the Irish Ports Authority later this year.

Greater public awareness is also important. The survey information is published and data is available to planning authorities to make informed decisions. A summary of all excavation reports in a given year is made available on the web and I will announce further initiatives in the near future.

I hope I have allayed the concerns raised by Deputies this morning. We will be coming back later in the year to update and consolidate the raft of existing legislation, which is a huge body of work. We are where we are not just with Carrickmines. We simply had no mitigation process in place because of what happened in the court decisions and which was defined as a technical glitch. We have now righted that in harmony with the National Museum, whose role is well defined and protected. We will work with the National Museum. The Government has no intention of going in, willy-nilly, and bulldozing anything. Whatever archaeological effects are found, we must ensure best practice is brought to bear in all the mitigation. I am pleased to commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome the publication of the Bill and wish it had come sooner. In the months since the court case in January I have become increasingly anxious as traffic conditions have deteriorated and the prospect of two cul-de-sac motorways appeared a distinct possibility. I realise there is more to the legislation than the Carrickmines issue. I realise also that if one does not live in the area perhaps there is not the same sense of urgency.

The Minister has had to deal not only with the Carrickmines issue but the possibility of similar cases arising. Some similar high profile cases have emerged since then on the M3 at Tara and on the N25, the Waterford City bypass with which the Minister will be familiar. The legislation will provide some clarity as to how these issues can be addressed.

I confess my immediate concern is Carrickmines and the problem on the south-eastern motorway. I am being a little parochial but it is understandable if one is familiar with the traffic conditions and the misery people in the area have had to tolerate every day and for much longer than was necessary. The impact on business has been incalculable in the Sandyford industrial estate in Central Park. Some tenants moved out because traffic delays made it impossible to trade. It could take over an hour to move a couple of hundred yards. That was intolerable for people. The major new town centre which is currently being built in Dundrum and many other significant investments in the area hinge on the completion of the motorway.

The direct costs to the county council, State and consequently to the taxpayer and indirect costs to every commuter, resident and business have been enormous. This is not limited to Dublin as it is part of a major road network and joins the south-east of the city and the whole south-east region with the rest of the country. The absence of this vital link has national ramifications. As far as I am concerned, the Bill could not come soon enough.

I support what the Bill does, but I have some reservation about it. The Minister agrees that it is not comprehensive. The merit of the Bill is that it provides a less cumbersome method of dealing with the issues thrown up by the discovery of a national monument or an archaeological discovery. It gives us some clarity, where previously there was none, and offers a way forward in situations similar to Carrickmines, where the court actions were the only way forward because of the stalemate. The flexibility the Bill provides might have offered a solution in Carrickmines.

One of the suggestions of those protesting in Carrickmines was that the road could be moved, either up from or to the side of the archaeological site. Even if the National Roads Authority or the county council saw that as an option to solve the problem, it could not have been entertained because it would have taken too long as it would mean going back to the very beginning to new plans, a new environmental impact statement, a new public inquiry, new CPOs and so on, effectively a process that could go on indefinitely and it would be back to the merry-go-round again.

Without any guarantee that one would not find more archaeological remains.

Exactly. This Bill gives An Bord Pleanála the power to sanction variations to approved works and where it does not so sanction, a decision can be made on the need for a new environmental impact statement rather than waiting for the courts to adjudicate on the matter.

Let me make it absolutely clear that Fine Gael insists that our national monuments be preserved. We have no future if we do not value what we have of value from our past. A decision to interfere with a national monument should only be considered when there is absolutely no alternative. If it is discovered that it is unique and irreplaceable and of archaeological value and significance, no matter how important the road, an alternative must be found.

The nub of the dispute at Carrickmines is whether what was discovered is archaeologically unique or merely of historical interest. The problem is the designation of what constitutes a national monument. How is a national monument designated? I thought it was interesting that the Minister referred to the archaeological remains at Carrickmines as a national monument, which has never been accepted by the county council. There was no one to adjudicate on it. One side maintained it was a national monument, while the county council said it was not. Because there were no objective criteria, the council was put into an invidious position of having to apply for consent to interfere with a national monument.

When I went out to Carrickmines, I expected to see a castle. Most people think there is a big castle.

The county council, notwithstanding the fact that it did not accept that the discovery at Carrickmines was a national monument, applied for permission to interfere with it, because that was the only way the stalemate could be broken. The Minister gave his consent but that was appealed to the courts and it was subsequently lost on a technicality — nothing to do with the merits of the case.

A major problem with this Bill is that it does not deal with the designation of a monument and that is a glaring omission because it leaves every road project open to the accusations that its path goes through a national monument. We could come to the ludicrous stage that every time a shovel is put in the ground and comes up with a three leg pot it will be called a national monument. There are people who want to subvert the roads programme for a variety of very selfish reasons in many cases — certainly reasons that have nothing to do with the archaeology — and we have to protect against that. The designation of a national monument must be clarified. Everybody's natural instinct is to preserve our heritage.

Natural concern was abused in the case of Carrickmines. People believed that a horrible crime was being perpetrated on what was a wonderful castle. They genuinely believed those accusations and that something valuable was being destroyed. Others simply did not want the road built and were professional objectors. That became clear when they were interviewed and their archaeological interest flagged; they immediately switched to becoming experts on planning and traffic management, issues on which they had no expertise. Even if they had, the time was long past when they should be raising such hares.

Legislation is urgently needed and I know the Minister is working on a consolidating Bill, which he hopes to bring before the House later in the year. The Taoiseach stated yesterday that it would be next year, but I hope that it does not cause problems for other roads in the meantime.

When an archaeological discoverey is made after a scheme is approved, the Minister may at his discretion give a direction to remove, restore or record the find — in other words the Minister decides what will happen next. I know some people object to this as they maintain that it gives the Minister too much power. I do not see it that way because the Minister has always had the power to consent to the destruction of a national monument and that in fact was what was struck down on a technicality. I believe the buck has to stop. We have to have faith that the Minister with responsibility for heritage has some interest in preserving our heritage and has the public good at heart. It should not be forgotten that the Minister only becomes involved at the end of a long process, including an archaeological assessment as part of the environmental impact statement.

In view of the powers being given to the Minister and that archaeological treasures are often buried treasures, it behoves all agencies to ensure that the initial investigation and the environmental impact assessment are absolutely exhaustive and carried out in the most thorough manner and limit the number of cases that end up on the desk of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The tragedy of what happened in Carrickmines is that the hares were not raised in time, when they could have been. With more sensible and sober heads, the issue could have been resolved.

The Minister has great praise for the archaeologists, but I wonder if we get value for money. One can now make a great deal of money from archaeology as a result of environmental impact statements. No excavation takes place until there is a road scheme. Are archaeologists as thorough as they should be? Three very prominent road schemes have been undertaken and it seems that the most precious archaeology is being found right in the path of the roadway.

Somebody discovers a three leg pot.

One becomes slightly suspicious when that happens. I would not say that the archaeological heritage is less precious than other heritage but they manage to build roads without this happening. My concern is that the Minister will make no decisions, because the legislation states that he may at his discretion make a direction as to how to proceed. The timeframe is too open-ended. The Minister may not have noticed it but he is not compelled to give a direction and there is no time limit on his decision. However, there are time limits for other people, for instance, the National Museum and An Bord Pleanála must make their direction within a certain time.

There are situations in which Governments do not make decisions in the run-up to an election. I am not suggesting this is the case with the Minister. If we are concerned to speed up the roll-out of our infrastructure a time limit should be imposed on the Minister compelling him or her to make a decision within a certain timeframe. I am not suggesting what that should be but there should be some limit on his or her decision. The Minister might consider that by way of an amendment.

The Bill could also be improved in section 5 where An Bord Pleanála has discretion to permit changes to the approved road scheme where there is no major environmental impact. I have already welcomed this provision because it gives a flexibility which is not there at the moment to find, in some cases, practical and timely solutions if a minor redesign or relocation is the solution. However, as the Minister is aware, if a specific piece of land, no matter how small, is required for road-building purposes, for example, if a change in the design is outside what is permitted within the CPO schedule, it cannot be purchased no matter how desirable it is by either the NRA or the local authorities. Will the Minister explore the potential for flexibility in the CPO mechanism similar to that being introduced in the EIS process because if there is no flexibility to move outside the terms of the original CPO schedule, it will negate the value of having flexibility to change the scheme slightly? It is not a matter of going outside the EIS but also going outside the CPO mechanism.

The Deputy is raising a very significant issue concerning the CPO legislation. That is another legal minefield with which I agree we must deal.

Fine Gael does not believe there must be tension between building our infrastructure and preserving our heritage. In this, as in most things, a sense of balance and common sense is the way forward and is essential. What is precious, unique and irreplaceable as a national monument must be preserved and alternative routes found for our roads. If what is unearthed can be examined, mapped, excavated and moved to a museum for public view then that should happen and the road should proceed with all speed.

The value of this Bill is that it lays down clearly the procedures for dealing with discoveries but it is critical that the designation of those discoveries is clear. It cannot simply be a matter of opinion with one self-professed expert on one side saying it is a national monument and another saying it is not. If we have clear, objective criteria and a clear designation process such issues would not have to end up in the courts, forcing otherwise reasonable people into extreme positions and feeding the egos of clever lawyers for whom it is all a game, which is more important to them than the outcome. If the Minister deals with the issues by amendment or in the consolidation Bill this legislation will remove at least some of the barriers to building our infrastructure.

I agree with much that Deputy Olivia Mitchell has said. It has taken a very long time for the Minister to bring a legislative proposal before the House arising from the decision of the Supreme Court in the Carrickmines case. That decision was handed down at the beginning of this year and it is disappointing that the Minister did not bring legislation into the House before now to allow for the completion of the M50 at Carrickmines.

If I could have I would have.

It is curious that the Bill he has brought in was not published until the day of the election which did not allow for any debate of the issue in the run-up to the local and European elections.

Many of my colleagues would have preferred if I could have published it weeks ago.

I also wonder why he did not approach it in a different way. The problem which has given rise to the legislation was, as the Minister said, that the Supreme Court stated a "technical glitch" had arisen in the Ministers and Secretaries Acts which found that the transfer order was invalid. If there is a "technical glitch" in legislation the quickest way to deal with that is to bring in primary legislation which corrects it and allows for the order made under the original legislation to stand.

It would not.

Perhaps the Minister will explain at a later stage why he did not simply address the "technical glitch" rather than bring in a Bill which as I indicated in an earlier contribution today has wider ramifications. We now have a situation in Carrickmines in which two ends of the M50 motorway are virtually complete but cannot be joined up in the middle. Whatever view one may take of the history of this affair, and I have views to which I will return, the only sensible action possible at this stage is to legislate to allow for the completion of the motorway, obviously in a way that maximises the protection of the archaeological find. The options open at this late stage are limited to the completion of the motorway and I would have no difficulty in accepting a Bill which would have allowed simply for that to happen. This Bill, however, has much wider implications than the completion of the M50 at Carrickmines.

The history of this motorway deserves to be recalled. Deputy Olivia Mitchell will recall that when she and I became enthusiastic new members of the old Dublin County Council in 1985, this week 19 years ago, the road plans were quite different from their present state. The immediate road plan of the then Dublin County Council was to complete a motorway as far as Sandyford and to take the traffic from Sandyford down what was then called the "green route" to Leopardstown Road onto the N11 at White's Cross. There was a long-term objective pencilled into the road plan and the development plan for a motorway which would go from Sandyford past Shankill to link up with the N11. Deputy Mitchell will recall that she and I were among the then councillors who argued that did not make sense. The sensible thing to do was to complete a motorway ring around Dublin and I recall arguing for that at the time.

That was 19 years ago and the question is not what has happened in the few months or two years that have elapsed since the discovery of the ruins of the mediaeval castle at Carrickmines and its fosse. The real question is why it has taken us 19 years to get from the consideration of that plan to a point where we need legislation debated in the Dáil to complete the motorway.

There were several delays in this motorway scheme. There was a delay in its design and the route selection. The old Dublin County Council had decided on a route for this motorway in 1992 following an examination by the council's engineers. One of the Minister's predecessors or his Department instructed the county council that it was not to produce a single EIS on that route but that it was also to carry out a second EIS on the alternative route. That process and decision delayed the motorway scheme by between four and five years. An elaborate EIS process was undertaken between that decision in early 1993 and the public inquiry in early 1998, thus creating a five-year EIS process. A great deal of money was paid to consultants to look at every stone, ditch, dwelling, etc., that would be affected by the motorway.

After spending five years and so much money, how did they get it so massively wrong? It is not that the existence of Carrickmines Castle was not known; it was known about and they ignored it. The extent of the site was not known and the issue did not arise at the public inquiry. This State, through its agencies, namely, the county council and the NRA, spent a great deal of money on an EIS which did not identify what has emerged to be probably the largest environmental impact issue at stake in the entire exercise.

Our EIS processes are seriously flawed. They are, in fact, phoney. What is engaged in is a process where there is a pretence undertaken that environmental impacts are being considered. From my experience of this particular motorway scheme, however, it seems that these studies are undertaken more in the interest of glossing over environmental difficulties or finding ways to circumvent them rather than facing up to them and addressing them directly. That is one of the reasons we are in the situation in which we currently find ourselves.

The second reason we are in this situation is that the public inquiry process is phoney. I spent three weeks attending the public inquiry relating to this motorway. I argued the case for the alternative route which, had it been accepted, would not have avoided this location but, because of the direction from which the motorway would have come, might well have avoided there being a major impact on the ultimate archaeological find. I was, however, ignored. Everybody who attended the public inquiry was ignored unless they had with them senior counsel or highly paid lawyers.

I recall various objections being raised by local residents who wanted no more than some mitigation in terms of the amount of noise that the motorway might cause, but they were ignored and nothing changed. However, in other instances a senior counsel representing a well-heeled landowner would make a case to the inquiry and, following two days of discussions outside the inquiry room with council officials or the legal people representing the council, they would return and state that agreement had been reached. The only people who were listened to at the inquiry were those with access to highly paid lawyers.

This motorway was also delayed because of legal challenges which had nothing to do with archaeology. There has been a great deal of discussion during the past two years about the people who initiated legal challenges in respect of Carrickmines Castle, the degree to which they delayed the building of the motorway and the enormous cost, which continues to accrue with each passing month, to taxpayers. That discussion has some validity. However, we do not hear as much about the four years lost in the legal challenges undertaken in respect of the Southern Cross Route, the earlier part of this motorway, by landowners, some of whom were well connected to sections of the media which choose to ignore the delays caused in this instance. Neither do we hear a great deal about the legal challenges mounted by the landowners, whoever they may be, involved at the relevant tribunal in respect of land located near Carrickmines. These challenges also delayed the building of the motorway.

If we had been presented today with a simple item of legislation which would allow for the completion of the motorway at Carrickmines, notwithstanding my concerns about the history of the motorway and about the find at Carrickmines — in respect of which steps could have been taken two years ago to reach a solution rather than trying to ignore people's objections — I would have some sympathy with it. However, that is not what has come before us. This legislation gives to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government wide-ranging powers, not only in respect of the M50 at Carrickmines but also in respect of any national monument.

Under section 5, the Minister will be given the power, which he can exercise at his discretion, to order that a national monument be demolished, that excavations may take place there, that it should be renovated or restored — something with which no one would disagree — that it should be sold or that it should be exported.

Those are all existing powers.

The only restraint placed upon the Minister in exercising that power, at his discretion, is that he must consult in writing with the director of the National Museum. The director must then reply within 14 days. Can Members imagine the National Museum having to make a case within 14 days in respect of a major archaeological find or an archaeological issue which might arise? That is absolutely nonsensical.

Provision is also made in the Bill regarding how the Minister might exercise his discretion. He is to do so while considering the public interest, which by its nature is quite wide-ranging.

We will be obliged to trust the Minister.

The Bill also refers to matters to which the Minister may have regard. Some of these relate to archaeological or heritage protection, the environment, the policy of Government — whatever that might be at a particular point — cost implications, etc.

It is clear that the Bill is a prescription to allow the Minister to order that an archaeological obstacle to a particular development be bulldozed.

That is not true. It is grossly unfair.

It is not grossly unfair. The Minister gave the game away at the beginning of his contribution when he stated that the protection of our archaeological heritage has been a primary concern of Government since the foundation of the State. That is true and it is to the credit of previous Governments that such a priority, in times when the country was poor, was given to the protection of our archaeological heritage.

Nothing was being found in those times.

The Minister proceeded to state that there is no doubt that the scale of development in recent years, as a result of our economic success, has presented a greater challenge to the protection and preservation of our archaeological heritage. What the Minister is saying is that while the protection of our archaeological heritage was a primary concern of the State in the past, now that we are a well-off country with a great deal of development taking place, we need to put that into second place.

That is the Deputy's view; it is not my view.

The Minister should allow Deputy Gilmore to speak without interruption.

That is what it comes down to — allowing for archaeological and heritage considerations to be given a secondary or subsidiary consideration when development works are being undertaken. The Bill will have more significance for the forthcoming road development at Tara and Skryne, the proposed development of the M3, than it will have for Carrickmines. Archaeologists and historians have been before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment and Local Government to set out their concerns that the proposed motorway development which will go through the Hill of Tara and Skryne will have major implications for the archaeology and heritage, not just of this country but of the entire Celtic world.

The Deputy is raising the temperature straight away. He knows as well as I do the finds on that route are minor. They have not found anything of significance.

I know nothing of the kind.

The Minister should allow Deputy Gilmore to speak without interruption.

The Deputy is raising the temperature.

I am not.

The Minister will have the right to reply at the conclusion of the debate.

I do not know that the archaeological finds of that area are, as the Minister put it, "minor".

Neither does the Minister. What I know is that respected archaeologists using the modern techniques of geophysics have reported significant archaeological finds along the route of the proposed motorway.

We will deal with them.

They also suggested these finds cannot be looked at simply as individual and unrelated finds that may be impacted upon by the construction of the motorway but that they form part of the total archaeological collection in that area. They pointed out that the concerns which they raised during the environmental impact study, EIS, process were not taken into account and given adequate weight. There are echoes in that of matters which were known at the time the EIS was done on the M50 and which were not taken into account in respect of Carrickmines.

The evidence does not say that.

They are saying nothing more than that before development work takes place on that motorway, it should be re-examined.

Six routes have been examined.

That is a reasonable proposition.

The Deputy should be fair and balanced. Six routes have been examined.

The Minister should allow Deputy Gilmore to speak without interruption.

The more the Minister interrupts——

Second Stage allows the Minister to make an opening speech and at the conclusion of the debate he has an opportunity to reply. Deputy Gilmore is now in possession and he is entitled to speak for 30 minutes without interruption.

Hear, hear.

I have no objection to the Minister interrupting me because——

I would not encourage that.

——both the content and tone of the Minister's interruptions are such that he is displaying the prejudice he will bring to bear when an issue relating to archaeology arises, if he is still Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when that motorway is under construction. He has already decided that these are minor archaeological finds.

No, but they are not of the significance that has been presented.

The Minister does not know.

No, I do not, but the point is that we should stand back and see. That is all I am saying. I am only trying to be helpful. The indications are that what people thought would be found on the Hill of Tara——

The Minister should allow Deputy Gilmore to speak without interruption.

Am I not allowed to make a point on Second Stage? I do not wish to argue with the Deputy because he is right. I am concerned that before we come to any conclusion on the M3 route, we should all stand back and see what is the case. There was an expectation that considerable finds would be discovered on the Hill of Tara. I understand that is not the case, which is not to say there are not potentially significant finds there. There may well be, but let us take a balanced view. That is all I am saying, nothing more and nothing less.

Deputy Gilmore should continue. If he addresses his remarks through the Chair he might not invite the Minister to interrupt and we might get through proceedings more quickly.

I do not want to re-visit matters the Ceann Comhairle might not wish to revisit, but we really cannot win on this side of the House.

I do not disagree with what the Minister has to say in terms of the principle of having a balanced look at the issues associated with the Hill of Tara and Skryne. If, as the Minister says, he will re-examine the matter, I would be happy with that. However, as I understand it, the current position is that the Minister takes the view that the motorway scheme is now agreed and it will not be altered. Any issue of archaeology arising in the course of the construction of the motorway will now be dealt with under the terms of this legislation, which implies that if an inconvenient piece of archaeology presents itself in the line of the motorway the Minister will order it to be removed.

The exercise of ministerial discretion will vary between Ministers. There are Ministers who, when exercising this discretion, will seek advice and act on it, and there are those who will not. It is entirely a matter for the Minister's discretion. The present Minister has a pretty good track record of not taking advice.

That is not true.

To my knowledge he is the first Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government who ignored the advice he was given in respect of a number of developments where his heritage officials recommended he should appeal developments to An Bord Pleanála and he chose not to. One of these was the development at Trim Castle.

I took direct advice——

The Minister should allow Deputy Gilmore to speak without interruption.

——that caused it to be changed.

The Minister will have an opportunity to reply at the end of the debate.

The Minister's officials——

That puts me in a no-win situation.

——recommended to him in respect of Trim Castle that on heritage grounds he should appeal the planning decision of the county council. He exercised his discretion, as he is entitled to do, not to lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanála.

I finished it. Why?

That development is proceeding.

The Deputy should be fair.

It is not for me to say why. I am stating the facts. The point I make to the Minister is that he makes decisions that are clearly pro-development, which he is entitled to do. This Bill will give discretion to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to order the demolition of a national monument or its sale or export. The present Minister has already displayed a record of not taking professional advice on heritage matters.

May I raise a point of order?

Time is allotted to the Minister at the end of this debate to respond to the points raised. It would be better for the House if the Minister did not respond to each issue as it arose because as soon as Deputy Gilmore has finished, we will move on to other Deputies who may also raise points that will need a response.

If he will not answer questions, why bother standing up to speak?

The Minister will respond at the conclusion of the debate as is catered for under Standing Orders on Second Stage debate. A question time at this stage, or the Minister's intervening, is not the appropriate way to conduct Second Stage.

I was not trying to be argumentative.

I appreciate that. Deputy Gilmore should continue now without interruption.

This Bill will legalise official vandalism of national monuments. It gives the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government excessive powers to order destruction of national monuments. It does not provide for the kind of protection or independent examination of the issues involved which would assure us that national monuments will be adequately protected. It goes way beyond the immediate issue of the completion of the M50 at Carrickmines, about which there would not be much disagreement at this late stage, and it prescribes a mechanism by which the Minister can essentially order the destruction of a national monument and of part of our archaeological heritage, where that heritage presents in an inconvenient manner to either the development of a road or any other development taking place.

The provision is not confined to the development of critical infrastructure. The Bill could apply to any development, including private developments. The term "works", for example, in the definition section of the Bill is being changed to include "works of national, regional or local importance". That could mean anything. It is not confined to public works or works of critical infrastructure. The new definition could mean the building of an hotel, an apartment block or anything where the Minister at his discretion could decide it was, for example, of local importance.

The powers being given to the Minister in this Bill are too wide and present real danger to the protection of our environment. In its present form the Labour Party cannot support it.

I thank the Chair for the opportunity to speak on this Bill. I thought we might have a new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government here today who would listen to what people are saying. The Government parties should have learned that lesson. The people sent a strong message in the local and European elections that the Government needs to listen to them and the people directly involved, and I hope this listening will be part of today's process.

When I first heard about this Bill, I had an open and positive approach to it and welcomed debate on the issue. However, as the debate has progressed on the issues, my concerns have been raised. My initial reaction was that the overall thrust of the Bill was sensible because we needed to respond to the difficulty and do something about it.

The key words on this issue are "national" and "monuments" because we are talking about historical places of archaeological and national value. Our reaction in this debate must be measured and reflect the importance of these two key words. The issue is important. The number of excavation licences issued every year comes to an amazing figure of 2,000. The public would be unaware there are so many. Most people might think a few dozen or a few hundred licences would be issued. When we see the figure of 2,000 licences, we know something major is taking place and that something of value is being done for the nation. These are the kinds of issues we should discuss in this debate which deals with national monuments.

Before going into the details of the legislation, I would like to mention a number of key issues. I feel strongly that while not living in the past, we should have a great respect for our history and our traditions. My vision of a modern Ireland is one which respects the past but looks to the future. This historic aspect must be considered in the context of this Bill.

From the point of view of education, these sites are a massive resource for the State, the taxpayer and the public. Thousands of primary, second level and third level students visit many of our wonderful sites which, as well as having historical and cultural value, also have serious economic value. We should not take our eyes off the ball in that regard because it is crucial.

The cultural aspect of our national monuments is another important issue. There is great potential to develop this aspect. This morning I met 40 visitors from New York state who are visiting the Dáil. They did not come to Ireland for the weather but to see our culture, history, monuments and Parliament. Had they wanted the sun, they would have gone to Florida or somewhere else. We should wake up to the fact that cultural tourism is a significant resource.

The protection of archaeological finds should be a priority for us. However, I am realistic enough to know that we cannot allow situations occur where, for example, a roadway cannot be finished or we ignore the real world. I accept that and agree with many of the previous speakers who said we must get the balance right. We must deal with the archaeological issues but also move on and make progress.

Road transport and safety are important issues and proper facilities must be in place for motorists. As far as I am aware — I am open to correction on this — since we have built our new motorways, most of our serious accidents have happened on our smaller more dangerous roads. The motorways appear to have contributed to road safety. I feel strongly about the safety issue. We must face up to that issue and other transport issues.

The spending of public money is a serious issue and I am angered by money being wasted or the lack of accountability for the spending of taxpayers' money. We must be strong and focused on this issue. As legislators, we are elected by the people to look after their money. While I support and respect the protection of our culture and archaeological sites, when I see the estimated costs of €6 million with regard to Carrickmines, I must cry "stop".

It is some €6 million plus.

The red light goes on for me. I feel passionate about how public money is spent. In recent days, I was contacted by a school for those with disabilities in Sandymount — Enable Ireland. The school is short of funding for a programme for 15 disabled children for the month of July. These are severely physically and mentally handicapped children. There is a problem with funding, yet the figures for Carrickmines exceed costs by €6 million. We need to have a debate about credibility, money and enormous costs.

The Department is now spending more than €20 million a year on archaeology for Carrickmines alone.

The figure of €6 million was, therefore, a conservative figure. The Government and the Opposition must act responsibly when taxpayers' money is involved. On the negative side, I am concerned about the provision that the director of the National Museum must respond within 14 days because I regard that as too short a time even though I understand the need for progress and efficiency. On the provision regarding the discretion of the Minister, different Ministers are interested in different things and that is the reality of the world. It is a question of trust. When dealing with issues of archaeology, history and cultural issues, a Minister might not necessarily have an interest in those matters and may be interested solely in pet projects and that is a cause for concern.

The decision to set aside the order of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding the works on the M50 at Carrickmines was the basis on which the Government orders of 1996 and 2002, transferring certain functions of the OPW under the National Monuments Acts, were deemed invalid. The High Court described this as a "technical glitch" and that is accepted by all. That is a fair comment and technical matters cannot be allowed stand in the way of progress. However, many people were of the opinion that the proposed National Monuments Bill should be a measured response to the issue. The Minister noted that during the drafting of the Bill it became clear that resolution of the issue required a number of amendments to the national monuments code to ensure the proposed revised procedures met the requirements of the EU directives on EISs,hence the delay in drafting the Bill.

The purpose of the Bill is to re-enact section 14 of the National Monuments Act to provide a one-tier consent process for works to a national monument whereby the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is sought. The Bill also provides that the National Museum is consulted when such consent is sought. I raised the matter of 14 days' notice but it is also important that there is provision for consultation with the director of the National Museum.

For the Deputy's information, I was not required to do that under the old section 14. I am strengthening the position of the museum by including that provision. It was not a requirement under the Act.

The Bill gives the Minister further power to issue directions on how any archaeological excavation works are to proceed. I presume the Minister would consult with the Cabinet and that it would not just be a Minister on a solo run. I acknowledge the Minister has direct responsibility but I would prefer a broader response. Some Cabinet members might have a specific interest in areas of archaeological or historical value.

The Bill also provides a new power to deal with unknown national monuments which may be discovered during the course of construction and which had not been identified in the environmental impact survey. In these circumstances, the discovery must be reported to the Minister who may issue a direction. If such a direction requires a change in the road design, it must in turn be reported to An Bord Pleanála which may amend the original approval. If An Bord Pleanála considers an amendment will have significant effects on the environment, it may require a new EIS to be prepared with a further round of public consultation. I regard this provision as important.

The Bill clarifies the transfer of functions to different Ministers and to the Commissioners of Public Works under different statutory instruments. These are the main provisions in the Bill.

I understand the Deputy is sharing time.

I am sharing time with Deputies Morgan and Sargent. Have I gone over my time?

The Deputy has used ten minutes.

Before I am heckled by Deputy O'Connor, I have one final point to make. I am pleased the Minister will introduce a Bill to update and consolidate the existing national monuments legislation. I hope he lives up to the promise.

It is badly needed.

I agree with the Minister.

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis an Teachta McGrath as a chuid ama a roinnt liom chomh maith. The media coverage of this legislation has focused on the possibility that it may face legal challenge. I am interested to hear what advice the Minister has taken in that regard. This morning I received a long e-mail which I do not propose to read into the record of the House because it would take up more than my allotted time. It was written by a barrister who stated that the Minister's new proposals will effectively remove the ability of the Dáil, the courts, the National Museum and the general public to regulate, prevent or even know about the wholesale destruction of Ireland's internationally significant and still undiscovered heritage, ostensibly because the National Roads Authority cannot detect the presence of archaeological remains before it designs road routes. The proposal will remove and undermine legislative protections enacted and improved upon since the foundation of the State. The effect will be to reduce Ireland's heritage protection legislation from relatively high to low standards overnight.

I presume that position could be open to challenge from the Minister's legal advice. However, it seems there could be a mother of all legal challenges being considered. I hope the Minister would avoid going down the route of confrontation as he stated there is considerable public funding in question. It would be very unwise to exacerbate an already confrontational situation further. It would be preferable to resolve rather than exacerbate the confrontation. In that regard, there needs to be a root and branch examination of why discoveries are being made and challenges undertaken very late in the day. This leads to additional delays and expense which should be avoided.

The PAC investigated suspicions of overspending linked to allegations of incompetence with respect to the National Roads Authority. There is no doubt the NRA has a dominant position. It is not accountable to Members of this House and questions asked are referred to the NRA rather than answered by the line Minister. The NRA is also in a position to retain the best engineers and has the organisational structure to give priority to its own objectives and sideline others. Its activities should be more closely investigated. Government needs to take a broader view in terms of a national transport authority rather than leaving the NRA in an advantageous position with respect to other transport options and the wider public interest.

The Minister stated there is an effort to discover the location of important archaeological sites in advance but I do not believe technology has been closely examined as a means of finding buried structures. I take the point made by the Minister that a certain amount can be done but not everything. Small finds might not show up in a satellite-based system, for example, but advances have been made in that direction.

The requirement regarding discovery of structures should be met long before construction begins. I remain to be convinced that this is the case. The current approach often appears to be to proceed with construction, hope for the best and if structures are found, the project will have progressed sufficiently to force the issue. This is a recipe for conflict.

I visited a site recently at which all the geophysical work, aerial photography and so forth had been completed. The archaeologist explained to me that although it showed potential——

Will I be given injury time for the Minister's interjection?

I was trying to be helpful by agreeing with the Deputy.

I ask the Minister to make his points at the conclusion of the debate. I have only ten minutes speaking time, whereas he had 30 minutes.

Nothing showed up until the archaeologists went on to the site.

I wish to make my points. The Minister can respond at the appropriate time. He is appointing himself adjudicator on a matter on which he should not be in an adjudicating position. He has taken a confrontational line from a parliamentary perspective and has acquired a reputation as——

That is not fair.

The Minister's comment proves my point. We are heading for another argument even before I have finished making my point. I will move on to my next point to avoid inviting further intervention.

The e-mail I have received, which runs to six pages, gives me to understand that there is a considerable amount of tension, even in the Department, between those who have a remit to protect archaeology and those who regard archaeology as at best a necessary evil and at worst something of a nuisance. A certain amount of intimidation is taking place, whereby people are being asked not to make life any more difficult by those who would prefer if sites were not discovered because they fear they will create problems.

Other speakers have contrasted procedures here with those in place elsewhere and asked how other countries manage to build roads. Archaeology is given considerable priority in other countries. York in England, for example, is often touted as a place where Viking heritage is celebrated and it generates significant revenue for the city. I hope Waterford will benefit in a similar manner in the years ahead from the undoubtedly important find at Woodstown.

The job of infrastructural development needs to be separated from the archaeology role. This will be impossible if the Minister succeeds in appointing himself adjudicator on both counts, namely, as the custodian of archaeological heritage and the promoter of infrastructural development. It will be very difficult for him to maintain a position of referee when he has vested both roles in himself.

An issue raised by other Deputies provides a good example in this regard and I ask the Minister to comment on it at the end of the debate. If the Minister exercises his prerogative to forgo an appeal to An Bord Pleanála regarding Trim Castle, he will assume responsibility for the outcome of that process. The matter has caused tension and had repercussions in the local elections. As the Minister will be aware, a number of those elected in the Trim area strongly lobbied and campaigned against the decision to give permission for a hotel to be built adjacent to Trim Castle on the basis that it did not conform to proper planning.

I substantially reduced the proposal.

Nonetheless, I ask the Minister to take into account the perception abroad that the decision did not adhere to proper planning procedures. The issue must be faced and I ask the Minister not to intervene by blocking appeals to An Bord Pleanála. As the body established to adjudicate on planning matters, it is much more expert and qualified than the Minister or any other elected representatives, including me.

Lessons should be learnt, including, for example, from the cases of Mullaghmore and Lugalla, which pre-date the Minister's time in the Department. It is important not to exacerbate the situation.

It is interesting that questions hang over whether individuals in the Department are suitably qualified in the area of archaeology and their experience in the area of fieldwork. Why are the qualifications of officials who are in controlling positions in the Department in the areas of archaeology and monuments under question? If the Minister is to vest so much power in himself and his advisers, he should ensure that the qualifications of his officials are beyond question.

My officials are excellent. I fail to see the Deputy's point.

I do not wish to take up time by going further into the matter. Costs must be viewed in terms of their proportion of overall costs. The Minister consistently refers to percentages when discussing waste. Archaeological costs, too, must be considered as a percentage of overall costs, in this case road construction costs. We should use percentages rather than figures. The €20 million figure referred to is one thousandth of the €20 billion overall cost of roads construction.

The €20 million is an annual cost.

The Minister should refer to percentages, as he does with waste, when discussing archaeology.

The cost of roads is not €20 billion per annum.

I do not mind if the Minister heckles me. I am getting used to it.

I am not in a heckling mood.

Unsurprisingly, the Minister has introduced a Bill which seeks to put developers and the interests of the National Roads Authority before safeguarding our heritage. Why does it not surprise me? Like so much of the legislation recently brought before the House by the coalition, this is emergency legislation necessitated by the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that the Government was not empowered to enact orders in 1996 and 2002, which had established a new scheme of consents to any works involving the removal, defacing or destruction of a national monument.

This is anti-heritage legislation designed to overcome conservationists' opposition to the Carrickmines interchange on the M50, the M3 from Clonee to north of Kells and the Waterford bypass. Perhaps it will also impinge on the construction of a four-storey hotel 20 metres from Trim Castle.

Regardless of what I do, the Deputy will not be happy but I will give him one thing — he is good at playing the game.

I am unhappy with most of what the Minister has done to date, not least the Protection of the Environment Bill, but also many other Bills on which I am happy to disagree with him. The basic, underlying theory of the Bill is to permit the destruction of national monuments to facilitate infrastuctural developments. Its introduction makes clear that the Minister is as unsuited to holding responsibility for heritage as he is for holding responsibility for environmental protection. Let us hope the imminent Cabinet reshuffle will throw up a more enlightened person to take responsibility for this important portfolio.

If the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government had any interest in heritage protection, he should put in place mechanisms to ensure that prior to the commencement of developments such as the Carrickmines interchange proper procedures and impact assessment studies are carried out to ensure that mistakes such as those which led to the Carrickmines debacle are not repeated and that national monuments are detected early and avoided when building infrastructure.

Time and again, the conservationists protesting against the destruction of Carrickmines and the ramming of a motorway through the historically rich valley of Tara-Skryne have made clear that they are not anti-roads. Has the Minister examined the composition of the groups in question? They could hardly be called radicals because they are not part of the rent-a-crowd brigade. They represent the most conservative elements of society and are far from anti-roads or anti-progress.

They, along with many others, seek that roads should be built legally having followed proper planning processes, including the early identification of heritage sites and national monuments so that they can be avoided rather than destroyed. Instead, the Bill provides that the Minister can grant a consent for the carrying out of works to a national monument which may result in the destruction of part or all of the monument after archaeological works have been carried out.

It has been claimed, with some merit, that this Bill will legalise badly designed roads. It will encourage developers, at the very least, to push roads through in a way that suits their own desire to make substantial profits, regardless of whether they cut through heritage sites, safe in the knowledge they will ultimately be permitted to destroy national monuments. Alternatives to both the Carrickmines interchange and the M3 motorway were put forward by conservationists seeking to preserve these sites. The legislation will result in developers having no motivation to compromise and it will lead to a repeat of the destruction of Viking Dublin at Wood Quay. This was a scenario we hoped would never be seen again, as Governments, under pressure from the EU, have since then put in place increased protection for our heritage, something this Bill seeks to remove.

Under the legislation, the director of the National Museum will have only 14 days to consider proposals to grant permission for the destruction of national monuments. This is inadequate for consideration of a newly discovered national monument. I thought the Minister might have meant 14 months. While I do not advocate a 14 month delay, I will table an amendment providing for a reasonable time for consideration of proposals.

How long?

The Minister should wait for the amendment. Under section 14(3)(d) as inserted by section 5, the Minister will be permitted to have regard to a matter of policy of the Government or any other Minister and, under section 14(3)(f) as inserted by section 5, to the cost implications that would in his or her opinion result from granting such a consent. This is a wide provision.

I am also concerned by the provision in the new section 14A, which provides that the consent of the Minister is required for works affecting a national monument where they are connected with an approved road development, on the basis that the approval process for such roads includes consideration of an environmental impact statement that will identify the archaeological impact involved. This is blatantly not the case. When the Minister addressed the debacle at Carrickmines in his contribution, he stated, "As the excavations progressed, the full extent of the work necessary for the complete archaeological excavations, resolution and recording of an area gradually become clear." How can he claim that the archaeological impact will be fully assessed before approval of a road project?

Is the legislation in compliance with various EU directives governing heritage protection? Has it been proofed against these directives? The legislation, which seeks to overcome the Carrickmines scenario where faulty pre-planning and planning practices have led to a stand-off between those seeking to protect our heritage and those seeking to force through an infrastuctural development regardless of its impact, is nothing less than a pro-developer, anti-heritage, quick fix solution.

The history and importance of Carrickmines castle has been known for a long time. The castle has been described as a time capsule of the medieval period and has produced the largest collection of medieval objects from a rural site in the history of Irish archaeology. It is the only historically documented massacre site where men, women and children were slaughtered by Crown forces in 1642. This knowledge should have ensured that the site was avoided by the motorway route. I oppose the legislation.

I thank Deputy O'Connor for allowing me to make my contribution during his allotted time. The purpose of the legislation is to provide for the completion of the M50, which is being done for the common good. The Minister stated this means the Government will bulldoze archaeological sites. We will be careful on Committee and Report Stages when we go through the legislation more thoroughly to ensure this does not happen. It must be ensured the legislation does not provide for the wholesale destruction of such sites.

While our national monuments should be preserved, at the same time, a balance must be struck between preservation and the common good. A definition of a national monument should have been included in the legislation. It is regrettable the Minister did not take the opportunity to include such a definition. Common sense must prevail. It is not enough in most cases to designate a site as a national monument. Many monuments are being allowed to deteriorate and fall into ruin. There is not much point in designating a structure as a national monument and then letting it fall down. Many are in a dangerous state. Resources should be made available through the Office of Public Works or, more importantly, local authorities to preserve such structures.

Owners of these sites are sometimes exposed if there are accidents. They cannot do much about this. A national monument is located beside a minor road in my constituency. It is an old castle, which is in ruins. Children play there every day and cars travel within yards of the site. The owner of the site facilitated Galway County Council in relocating the road, which only serves a few houses, on his land away from the national monument to preserve it. However, the council could not grant the man permission to demolish the monument. He did not have the resources to restore it and no funds were available to do so. Meanwhile, he could not get insurance to cover himself against the possibility of the monument collapsing and seriously injuring people. The Minister should examine the position of national monuments, which are a danger to the public. Protection should be provided for landowners or, at the very least, the sites should be made safe.

While people have the right to express objections against projects such as that at Carrickmines and to lobby and protest in support of their beliefs, sometimes they come up with excuses that do not stand up in terms of architectural heritage. Genuine projects are often much delayed as a result. I recall serious flooding in south Galway in 1995. Nine houses were flooded and cut off entirely. The occupants' only way in or out for eight to ten weeks was via a helicopter. The local community developed a flood relief scheme which comprised a simple three or four mile channel to the sea. Every obstacle was put in the way of the locals as they tried to resolve the problem. Horseshoe bats were found among the rocks.

That scheme was carried out. It cost €120,000 and solved the flooding problem in the south Galway area, which has not flooded since then. The Office of Public Works carried out a site investigation since which cost €1 million to see how the problem could be solved in south Galway, but a spade will never be used in that area again. That scheme could have been delayed for those reasons.

The Minister will be aware of the Mutton Island case, where there were serious objections because there were nesting grounds for terns, although terns had not nested there for 30 or 40 years. The project was delayed for five or six years and lost EU support grants, which meant the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government had to fund the scheme itself. Despite construction of the scheme, terns nested there two years ago. That is the reality of people objecting for the sake of it.

I attended the opening of the Mutton Island scheme and I saw the Minister's name on the plaque. Unfortunately, he could not attend because he was held up in the Dáil by Report Stage of the now failed electronic voting Bill. There is a monument to him on Mutton Island but I will inform people that he was in the Dáil that day trying to have the electronic voting Bill passed and failing in the process, I am glad to say, although there is nothing personal in that.

This Bill relates to the Carrickmines site and the M50. The latter is now like the village in Westmeath, Ballymore, which had two ends and no middle. That was an old saying about Ballymore, but it is no longer the case because there is a middle in it now. Like every other village, it has been filled up. The Carrickmines site is simply two ends of a road which cannot be joined in the middle and common sense must prevail. I recognise that legislation was needed for the common good to enable work to be completed on that necessary roadway. All other precautions should also be taken to ensure that the archaeological finds are protected and secured.

This Bill arises from the January High Court case which set aside an order by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government relating to the works on the M50 at Carrickmines. That Government order, which dates back to 1996 and 2002 and transferred certain functions of the OPW under the National Monuments Act, was invalid. This was described by the High Court as a technical hitch and the Minister therefore had no option but to bring forward legislation. All parties in the House acknowledge that the common good should prevail and there is support for the Minister's proposals. That is common sense, although we must always be careful, because we are the people who enact legislation, that there is no small print in Bills which would allow Ministers now and in the future, according to Deputy Morgan's gospel, to have more authority than is necessary in these cases.

Overall I welcome provisions to allow the necessary work to be completed because one cannot have millions of euro lost because of unreasonable delays in examining sites. I am not technically qualified to say so but, with modern technology, there must be a means of establishing in advance what archaeological remains lie underground. These should be established and put on the record before works commence rather than discovering them when work begins. If such remains were discovered at the site investigation stage of road planning, there would be an opportunity to change routes to avoid them.

That is what they are trying to do.

It should be done and I encourage the Minister to invest resources in modern technology which would enable us to do so. That would save a lot of frustration, delay and expense in the long run.

A fortune is being spent on it.

I welcome that. The Minister said that during the drafting of the Bill, he became aware that the issue required some amendments to the national monuments code, and the Bill includes those amendments. The main purpose of the Bill is to re-enact section 14 of the National Monuments Act to provide a one-tier consent process for works on national monuments where the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is sought for such works.

The Bill also provides that the National Museum will be consulted when such consent is sought and I seek clarification on that point. If the National Museum must be consulted, is that another process that will have to be followed after the Minister deliberates on this? Certain approved road schemes with an IAA form are exempt from providing a section 14 consent on the basis of the EIA consent procedure, which will have made recommendations for archaeological considerations. However, the Bill gives the Minister further powers to issue directions on how archaeological excavation works are to proceed. Those sections of the Bill confer extraordinary powers and, while this Minister would not abuse his powers in that way, we must be careful, in adopting the legislation, that a future Minister does not have that opportunity.

The Bill clarifies the transfer of functions between different Ministers and the Commissioners of Public Works under different statutory instruments. The Bill will give discretion to the Minister to grant consent or otherwise and to issue directions in respect of a national monument, notwithstanding that such consent or direction may involve injury to, interference with or even harm to a national monument. These are far-reaching powers for the Minister.

They are all in place.

The Bill also makes provision for appropriate protection of the archaeological heritage along the routes of approved roads and developments including the south-eastern route section of the M50, which is welcome.

This is the seventh emergency legislative measure the Government has brought in, which indicates that the Government is ploughing from one emergency to another. It is also a sign that the Government is under pressure. Emergency legislation should not be necessary seven times. There are times when it is necessary but now such legislation is becoming the norm. The public has observed those seven legislative measures and the indecisiveness of the Government. Whether that is due to the two-party structure of the Government, I do not know. We had some evidence of that in the past week.

It is due to the courts.

The Minister should be careful. The pressure is on now and we can see a struggle between the two sections of the Government. At least that is what those on the plinth are saying and they know more about this than I do. Who am I to say what is going on? I only listen to those on the plinth. We might have to endure more emergency legislation given what is going on. This Bill is not emergency legislation but is designed to get over a legal situation.

The Bill gives the Minister an opt out clause. Section 5 states that the Minister may issue directions to road authorities on whether or not to proceed with a road project upon discovery of historical artefacts, but it does not compel the Minister to make such a ruling. I find that a little strange. The Minister could decide to abandon one road project and go ahead with another. That might lead to a situation where proceeding with one road project might be more politically beneficial than proceeding with another. If I were in Government, I would lobby to have the N6 and the outer bypass in Galway sanctioned. If I were able to apply pressure, or if an Independent Deputy were able to do so, to require a project to go ahead, this Bill would give the Minister a clause to ensure that. It is a dangerous weapon.

Far be it from me to say this Minister would ever attempt to use that dangerous weapon but some Minister might in the future. In a tight situation, when dealing with different parties in Government and Independent Deputies, a Minister might use the opt out clause of not proceeding with a road project because of the discovery of artefacts and decide to go ahead with another road which would be more political advantageous, particularly in the lead up to a general election. That opt out clause for the Minister in section 5 is a dangerous provision.

Fine Gael's approach to this Bill and to the subject in general is quite clear. We do not for one moment believe that the creation of a proper road network and the preservation of our national heritage are mutually exclusive. We believe we can protect the national heritage in a manner which enables us to proceed with major works such as the M50, which is the purpose of this Bill. From that point of view, the Bill is welcome and necessary.

In a country such as Ireland, there is every chance that work on a road project will produce historically significant artefacts because of our history and heritage. The nub of the argument is whether those artefacts should be examined, excavated and moved to museums for public viewing or whether modern life should grind to a halt. Our view is that those artefacts should be removed and viewed in a museum with a small portion of them being preserved on site. If such common ground could have been arrived at between the objectors and the National Roads Authority, we would have solved that problem.

There is a strong argument that the Carrickmines site would have remained in relative obscurity had the works not taken place. There was no scramble at the beginning of the works on the M50 to preserve this site but it was only when the artefacts were subsequently discovered that its importance was realised. That is as it should be, but it seriously calls into question the agenda of those who wish to stop the development of the M50. At the beginning, genuine people seek to preserve our heritage and national monuments but later on, others jump on the band wagon because they like to protest and they like action, the excitement of it and the sense of power it gives them to be involved in such a protest. As I outlined in some other contributions, some people have other motives and use the preservation of artefacts for their own purposes.

I will take a lead from Deputy McCormack and speak as a Government backbencher who does not do the plinth but I am happy to contribute to and support the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill. I am pleased to note the presence of the Acting Chairman, Deputy Glennon, because I know if I am in any trouble and being heckled by anybody from the Opposition, he will protect me but it does not look like I will need that type of protection. I can only presume the various representatives of the Opposition parties have retreated to their offices and party rooms to study the results of the local and European elections to try to figure out why they did not do better in mid-term elections as was the norm across Europe. I do not want to rise Deputy Durkan, so I will park that point.

The Deputy should not worry.

I will try to get through my 20 minutes.

We will make it interesting.

I will do my best. Perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy de Valera, will pass on my good wishes to the Minister because I am a well-known admirer of his and wish him well with his duties and this Bill. On a number of occasions, including quite recently, the Minister has taken the opportunity to walk the streets of Tallaght with me. Sometimes those of us who represent major population centres are thought to represent new communities. In my case that is true because Tallaght, Greenhills, Firhouse and Templeogue are new communities.

Funnily enough, I have an interest in history and heritage. I spent a little time this morning reflecting on my history.

This could be serious.

Sometimes people in Tallaght say to me that I am not really from Tallaght and they ask me how long I have lived there. When I say I have lived there for 35 years, they say that is not very long.

The Deputy is almost a fossil at this stage.

Strangely enough, I started off in this neck of the woods. I was born in Holles Street and my family lived in St. Stephen's Street. I mention that fact because where we lived at the bottom of St. Stephen's Street is now owned by Dunnes Store and is a very important archaeological site.

I hope there is a plaque.

Recently, a number of Viking bodies have been found there. I have suddenly become very aware of heritage and history. Even where my parents were married 59 years ago today, the church of Saints Michael and John, is very much a historical site. Despite what some colleagues might think or perceive I do, I have a great interest in old Dublin and in history.

When people think about Tallaght, they think about the Square, the hospital, the civic centre, the institute of technology, the national basketball arena and all the buildings one would expect to find in a new town. However, Tallaght did not fall out of the sky 20 or so years ago. It has a rich history and heritage. There are a number of historical sites there, such as the Katherine Tynan site in Kingswood.

While I am no expert on the business before us, I have an understanding and appreciation of it. I have been interested in a number of the contributions to this debate. Some of them have been along the usual lines of having a go at the Government for the sake it.

They have also had a go at a Minister who is clearly doing his job well. He has many admirers on Deputy Durkan's side of the House. I know Deputy Durkan cannot come into the House, break party ranks and say that, but the Minister is doing his job and I know the Deputy privately concedes that.

He ran away with €60 million of taxpayers' money on an experiment.

The Deputy can heckle me at the end of my contribution but he should let me get through it. I listened to the Deputy's colleague, Deputy Olivia Mitchell, who made an excellent and positive contribution. She would know a great deal about this business given that she represents Dublin South. The M50 cuts through Dublin South-West, which I represent. Deputy Olivia Mitchell would know a little more than I about the geography of the area that is the subject of the Bill, on which I compliment her.

In researching my contributions, which I try to keep short, I often read background material from which I discover facts and information that has expanded my interest and knowledge in the subject matter of the Bill being discussed. That is a good learning experience for me and I am happy to do that.

Regarding this Bill, I appreciate from my research the level of public capital, professional time and vested interest involved in what we all think is a simple matter. We need a road, we select its route, we start to build it and if part of our history appears under the excavators, all hell breaks out. We hear from lobbyists, lawyers, media briefings and competing experts seeking their day in the sun on our national television stations and in the media, and in this international age of the web, international protests are made by informed or ill-informed but well-meaning supporters of Ireland in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and elsewhere. Only this morning I received another round of e-mails which I am going through. For the record, I always read my e-mails and reply to them, unless there is a good reason for me not to do so.

The Deputy would have received a few interesting ones in the past week.

If the Deputy is trying to rise me, I will raise my voice by a decibel. I represent the Tallaght area. The Deputy suggested that all hell was breaking loose and the roof was falling in, but in Tallaght central we had one seat prior to the elections and now we still have one seat. In Tallaght south, we have two seats. Therefore, there is no sign of the roof falling in there.

It is creaking.

The Government is doing its job. We must take a more caring approach and that is what the Minister of State, Deputy de Valera, and her colleagues will be doing. I hope every Member here can say that he or she, like me, is a democrat. My party will always accept the will of the people and listen to them. That is what I want to do and I will respond to what the people say to me. I am not afraid to speak my mind from the Government benches.

In regard to what I said about the lobbyists, lawyers and so on, all they seem to have in common is a wish to acknowledge our past, yet for some strange reason they seem unwilling to adapt to our future. This Bill has been introduced as a result of the ongoing difficulties with the south-eastern motorway which is the final stage of the M50 link from the M1 at the airport to the M11 at Bray. The Acting Chairman will know as much about that link as I do.

The Acting Chairman is a regular traveller on that route.

He and I will be able to drive from my constituency to his and to Bray to enjoy the seaside.

I do not need to explain to any Member of this House the urgent social and economic need for the completion of this stretch of motorway as soon as possible, a point which even Deputy Olivia Mitchell made. I congratulate my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Brennan——

With the hard hat.

——who also represents Dublin South together with the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, on the recent opening of the Drummartin link road and on the announcement that this December the sections either side of the Carrickmines area will be open to traffic and we will be able to use them. I might bring Deputy Durkan on a tour of it if he has an hour to spare some day.

I do not need a tour of it as I know that area.

The congestion we have all experienced over the past five years in the Sandyford area will be consigned to history and the M50 from the M1 to the M11 will be completed.

When researching for this contribution I also discovered the impact our heritage can have on the development of the common good. I was a member of South Dublin County Council from 1991 up to last September. I am disappointed that I am no longer a member and that I was not seeking election last week.

Who did that?

It is one of those things.

The bold little Minister did that.

It was the right decision, and even the Deputy agrees with that——

The little cheeky brat of a Minister did that.

——but that does not mean I cannot express the view that I miss the council, which I do. I drive by the council building in Tallaght every morning and wish I could go in, but I do not have time as I must continue to do my job on the national stage, and that is what we are all doing.

That breaks my heart.

Having been a member of the council for many years, I am fully aware of environmental impact statements and, on reading the report on Carrickmines, was reminded, as I know were other colleagues, that the public inquiry and approval for the project was granted back in 1998. That was six years ago and, with the passing of this Bill, the projected completion date is July 2005. It took a total of seven years to construct a motorway that is 10 km. long and should have taken a little over two years.

The extent of archaeological work is such that it presents itself as a booming business that would make a Celtic tiger envious. Up to 200 archaeologists were involved on the scheme at any one time, with as many as 130 on the Carrickmines site. Expenditure to date on such work has been quoted at €10 million and, in the heel of the hunt, cases brought by individuals through the courts, as is their right in a democracy, have resulted in the need for this Bill. When one considers that the plans for the road were adjusted many years ago to allow for a section of the medieval wall, two medieval structures and parts of the defences to be preservedin situ with the rest of the site excavated, what was the necessity for objectors to consider the greater need in their campaign? The repeated complaints to the European Commission by one of Dublin’s prominent MEPs, and I will not get involved in party politics——

Go on, be a devil.

Let us try to be civil with each other. I am simply pointing out the disregard of that MEP for the larger picture, and the fact that the costs involved could and would have been invested elsewhere in the roads network only serves to show that political opportunism and publicity continues to be the benchmark of the Opposition parties.

Not to be party political, I am looking forward to Deputy Eoin Ryan representing Dublin in Europe because, as a Fianna Fáil MEP, he will do a tremendous job in standing up for Dublin and looking after its interests.

Royston would have done a good job too.

I look forward to Deputy Eoin Ryan doing that. The merits of this Bill have been recorded by the Minster for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Cullen. I support the details of the Bill. With the need to provide for future infrastructure, be it the Waterford bypass or the M3 on the edge of the Tara-Skryne valley, it is important that while we preserve as far as possible our heritage and monuments, a balance needs to be struck between those who want no change and the better good. I strongly support the involvement of the National Museum staff in the investigation of the benefits of excavation. I note that while the director of the National Museum is taking what I consider to be a pragmatic view on the Waterford discovery, others in the sector disagree. We should not get caught up in the hype that the findings in Waterford will result in hundreds of thousands of visitors similar to the Jorvik site at York, about which Deputy Sargent spoke. This site is only a part of the many wider attractions that bring visitors to that historic and culturally rich city.

I mentioned Tallaght, it being a relatively new community, and the attractions there. It has become as much a tourist resort as anywhere else. I mentioned during the debate on Private Members' business on crime and Garda numbers that the Minister of State, Deputy de Valera, represented that area as a Deputy a few years ago and that Tallaght is now a different place. The place she served so well and left in such good order has now developed from what we use to describe as a place which had the population of a city but, unfortunately, through different circumstances, still only had the status of a village. I am pleased that position is now different and Tallaght is now rich in its progress and in the development of the various facilities and services one would expect in a major town.

I acknowledge that we should have regard for our heritage and history. Other colleagues made the point about reaching out to young people in that regard. Whether we represent urban or rural constituencies, we all have a role and a responsibility to promote an awareness of our heritage and history among young people. While some may believe that young people are cynical and sceptical about politics, I notice that when they come here on schools visits, they have an enormous appreciation of the rich history of this House. That is especially due to the excellent work of the staff who conduct tours of Leinster House. I have often listened to what is said as young people are brought on tours of the Houses of the Oireachtas, and they get a clear view of our history and heritage.

Earlier today, I was ambushed by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs who asked me to take about 12 photographs of a group visiting from Donegal. I hope the pictures come out because, as I told them, I am a politician, not a photographer. It is good to promote our sense of history, however, as well as our heritage. Sometimes I sit here, close my eyes and think about the history of these buildings and the people who have passed through over the years. While I am not referring to myself in this regard, I hope some current Deputies will be remembered.

The Deputy would not want to close his eyes for too long here.

It does not matter how long I will be here; I am happy to let the people decide. If I do something else down the road, that will be fine also. When I became a Dáil Deputy, somebody said to me that God has all these things worked out. I am quite happy about that.

It is true. Does the Deputy not believe that?

Is He in the same constituency?

I take it that you are protecting me from the hecklers, Sir.

An Bord Pleanála carried out the longest public hearings in the history of the State concerning the M3 scheme and an environmental impact statement outlined the procedures that will be in place to protect historic sites. One must ask, however, why protest groups are unable to respect the integrity of the local authority, An Bord Pleanála, and the National Roads Authority. They should work with them to monitor the work in progress.

I am not a fan of the National Roads Authority and have often been critical of it. I wish the NRA would accelerate the road building programme I am seeking in Tallaght. I will continue to press for that, I hope with the support of my colleagues. Perhaps Deputy Durkan could have a chat with what is left of the Fine Gael organisation in Tallaght, so they might support me in that regard.

The Deputy should not go there. It is a very sensitive time for his party. If I were him, I would be careful. He might be washed over by a wave.

I am always happy to support good legislation and will not refrain from doing so. As a result of the good work of Ministers, every Member of the House will be able to state that construction on local road schemes is waiting to start. I hope the Bill will go some way towards ensuring that delays will be treated in a professional manner, and that failings and associated excess costs can be relocated to advance many road schemes that are still at the planning stage.

Colleagues are entitled to score their little points but ultimately I hope Members on both sides of the House will support this legislation. I will listen to the remainder of the debate to see if that turns out to be true. The Bill has general support here and will have general support in the community. I commend the Bill to the House.

I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this Bill but, unlike the previous speaker, I do not necessarily regard it as good legislation. It has been forced upon the House, the Minister and the country by a series of mistakes made by the Minister and his Department over several years. It is extremely costly legislation, as it now transpires, following a series of blunders, which eventually ended up in the courts, as both sides weighed up the various options. At least €50 million has been lost in the course of building a road that should have been finished long ago. In any other country, it would have been completed long ago for a fraction of the cost. In Australia, 1,000 km of road have been built for the same sum. The cost involved in the construction of the M50 cannot be justified. The conflicting issues in this case have been progress versus protection of heritage. Both have to be acknowledged and must co-exist because if they cannot do so, the situation will remain unchanged.

State-of-the-art technology can identify historical sites from the air, so I cannot understand why modern geophysical techniques were not employed in this case. Why did we have to await the commencement of major roadworks to discover the remains of a Viking settlement near Waterford? Technology is now available to identify such sites well in advance of any excavations, so why was it not employed? If it was done, was it done properly? Perhaps it was just a desk-top examination, which has happened in other cases.

The Minister of State, Deputy de Valera, will be familiar with the Committee of Public Accounts' examination of the Kilrush marina creek — a famous case many years ago. All the information provided in that examination was wrong and failed to stand up afterwards. It cost four times the original projected price because insufficient examination was undertaken of the site in question. It had nothing to do with the preservation of a monument but concerned subterranean rock formations. It transpired that what was known as a desk-top examination had been undertaken, which proved to be expensive relative to the eventual overall cost of the project. It is sad that we had to await an examination to discover that fact.

In recent years, I have tabled numerous parliamentary questions concerning historical sites that require protection, including ring forts. I do not understand why excavations cannot be undertaken without the involvement of major roadworks or other developments. Why not carry out excavations as a separate project with a view to protecting and preserving historical sites for future generations? In that way, locals and tourists alike would be able to visit such sites and learn from them. Millions of tourists visit such sites all over the world every year, so I cannot understand why we do not organise matters in that way. We are preoccupied with keeping historical sites buried for future generations, but at what future date will we uncover these sites. Some people say it will happen when technology advances to the extent that we can obtain more initial information from potential excavation sites. If we wait that long, however, something else may happen and we may never get to enjoy our heritage to the extent that we should.

Some time ago I had occasion to inquire about an area of recent afforestation in a certain part of the country. In this context, I inquired about the whereabouts of an underground cave, which was of considerable historical significance, but nobody knew anything about it. However, every local authority has access to a satellite image system that can merge with Ordnance Survey maps, whereby every location is shown quite clearly, without exception. I cannot understand how it was possible to carry out afforestation over a wide area and ignore the existence of a major historic site such as that, but it happened in the last four or five years and must therefore happen all the time. Why is that the case?

The first thing a developer will do if he or she is involved in developments in respect of which there is a danger of the discovery of something of that nature, is try to progress the project as quickly as possible so no one will discover it until afterwards. I do not blame them for doing so because the authorities fail to examine or explore the sites beforehand as they should do. I strongly dispute the view held in some quarters that we should preserve everything underground forever because that is the reason we are in this position and have this legislation before us.

I acknowledge that Dúchas, An Taisce and other parties were involved and signed off on the Carrickmines project in recent years. However, some people sought to pursue the objections further with the result that the motorway has been held up at a cost of €50 million and there is a strong suggestion that there has been a serious infringement on an historic site. This cannot be allowed to continue.

The people who allowed this project to go ahead with such costs, from whatever quarter, need to be called to answer some serious questions. The country cannot afford to proceed in this manner. We cannot proceed in the manner of cases such as that involving the snails in Kildare town because we will become a laughing stock. In the desire to be politically correct we will eventually arrive at a position where nothing will happen because all objectors will need to do is point to a sacred site or whatever. I appeal to the planners not to infringe on such sites, rather they should circumnavigate them, giving them plenty of space.

Consideration is being given to an already well-advanced project involving a motorway through the Boyne Valley. I strongly support the need for the motorway to alleviate traffic congestion travelling into and out of Dublin and on the arterial routes. However, we have now discovered there is a series of archaeological sites upon which the motorway will seriously impinge. This is despite the fact that modern technology is available to the local authorities, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and through the private sector. Is it not possible at this stage, before the project goes off the rails at tremendous cost, to use the available technology to identify the most sensitive areas and circumnavigate them?

It will be argued that this has already been done and agreed to, but I am not so certain. If the same argument develops as did in respect of Carrickmines, I assure the House that in ten years' time, Deputies will still be talking about the delayed motorway through the Boyne Valley. I appeal to the Minister and all those involved to get their act together and deal with the issue. They should ensure that the environment and our heritage are protected and that we can advance like every other country in the world. If we do not, eventually everything will come to a halt. I emphasise the necessity of carrying out independent evaluations and geophysical surveys on an ongoing basis, without pressure from any quarter in respect of a major development. After the survey is carried out, it can be placed on the local authority's or the Department's database.

Given that the technology, including satellite imaging, is available to local authorities, I do not understand why we still seem to find ourselves with a motorway, roadway or other construction half developed before someone identifies something which should have been identified long before. In that context, I already referred to the Viking site in Waterford. Similarly, in Kildare town, formerly part of my constituency, €15 million or €20 million extra had to be spent on the bypass to carry out the same works because of delays. Situations such as this suit the contractors because they increase their costs and can undertake other work while the project is held up.

In order to deal with this position, we must anticipate such problems is advance. The Kildare town case could have been dealt with in advance. We must ensure that projects are not progressed until an EIS is prepared which is sufficient to guarantee clearance of the project — it should cover everything. Where the position is not clear, the local authority should carry out an EIS in certain sensitive areas.

Environmental impact statements have been carried out in most of the cases to which I have referred. However, I cannot understand why if an individual applies for planning permission for a house within 150 or 200 m of an historic site, he or she will quickly be told they cannot build there because it impinges on a vista and so on. How can the local authority find out all the information when it affects a single person applying for permission for a house and yet, when bulldozers are working on a motorway through the area, they cannot do so. I presume it is because the latter is for the common good.

Nevertheless, we have reached the point at which enough mistakes have been made to give us a clear indication as to how the Government and the local authorities should proceed. There is no substitute for sufficient prior examination and investigation of the sites involved. If that lesson has not been learned by now, I am wasting my time here, as is the Minister of State. If we go around this roundabout one more time, it will be to our shame because we should have learned from our mistakes. We found out to our cost what can happen in this type of situation.

There is a tendency to blame the objectors. I do not normally tolerate them but their objections must be examined and tested to find out if they are well and soundly based. If they are, we must act accordingly. If they have not already been fired, people should have been fired for the Carrickmines situation which is before us. We should not have to pay €50 million to anyone to ensure that everything is resolved to the satisfaction of everyone and that the legal fees are paid, when all we will get is a simple road. These are serious issues which must be discussed.

I would like to have more time on this issue. I have a particular affection for historic sites because I was born in the west of Ireland, where there was a ring fort at least every 150 metres which coincided with existing settlements. There were more of them then because the population was higher. I would like to see excavations carried out on such sites and the results made available to school children.

There is nothing to beat local history in terms of education. Local history is hugely beneficial to the new generation and gives them something we did not always have. We saw the sites and heard the folklore but did not have the authoritative information to back it up. I hope in the not too distant future there will be a serious programme of excavation and education relating to all archaeological sites. They are there for the benefit of future generations but if the present generation does not see them, except when a motorway is being built across them, we are wasting our time and we are not doing the State, the country or our heritage a service.

The Bill is about progress versus protection of our heritage, to which must be added the delays that cause the increased costs. We should try to learn from our mistakes now rather than in ten years' time. If it has cost us greatly now, why not take action now? Why not put in place the necessary measures to ensure this debacle is not repeated? For example, over two years there were countless courts cases concerning people living in trees in the Glen of the Downs. I am a tree enthusiast.

The Deputy does not live in one.

For my sins, I have planted approximately 60 or 70 species of trees in my lifetime.

The Deputy is branching out.

I have made my contribution to the growing of trees. I was watching what was going on in the trees at that time and certainly it was neither to the benefit of the trees nor anybody else. I do not know what all the fuss was about because a tree is a renewable resource contrary to what many think. Some trees are better than others, some are more valuable than others and some look better than others.

They have better branches.

When all was said and done a considerable amount of money was wasted. Making a protest is one thing but it went beyond that to a clash of interests between progress and protection of the environment. We have to be realistic in the future and assess what is likely to happen and plan accordingly before the project commences. If it proves impossible to plan a project in that fashion there is something wrong with how we plan it, conduct the EIS, cost the scheme or in the way information is provided to whose who may have a legitimate reason to object. Have any lessons been learned from this episode? Perhaps the Minister would indicate who was removed from office, who did not follow warnings, who did not take note of the possibilities and who did not protect the Exchequer by virtue of information which should have been available to them at that time?

I am pleased to contribute to the debate on this Bill. While I am chair of the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs I speak from my own perspective. It is fascinating to discuss the balance of progress and the past, particularly when it relates to the building of a motorway. I would like to have a motorway earmarked for the north-west in order that we could begin to address the question of EIS or archaeological sites when, I have no doubt, a few issues would have to be dealt with. I would like to be in a position where I would be discussing issues of archaeological finds, planning and the location of a motorway into the north-west.

Deputy Durkan claimed that finding archaeological sites was a recent phenomenon and suggested that technology should be ahead and able to identify such sites so that the area could be circumvented. In a sense it is like what we do everyday. We try to find a simple answer to any problem that crops up. I may be wrong, but I think the population here pre the famine was greater than it is today. I assume, therefore, because there were quite a number of people living in Ireland in the past, there are many significant places, old cloghans and archaeological finds. It is suggested that there are only certain areas where will be a find sites of some significance. Perhaps we have to do quite a bit of digging before we find the significant places. Perhaps in our digging we will find many less significant finds. The question arises as to what defines significant value and what defines something of heritage value. How can we presume to know this until the top layer of soil is taken off and we find something and begin to evaluate? If there were only particular areas, perhaps technology would be able to provide the answer but life is not usually as easy as that. In everything we try to do difficult decisions have to be made and the unexpected always crops up.

The amount of money lost on this issue is of concern. Out of that concern there has also been a significant number of finds over two years by 131 archaeologists. Those finds must be of benefit to our generation and future generations. I hope the information gleaned will be available on site or will be easily accessible to people.

The reason I say that is slightly relevant. My grandfather spent time in Ballykinlar camp in County Down in 1920-21. I tried to find some information about it and came across a lady in Dublin who had photographs of every hut in one of the camps in Ballykinlar but she did not know who the people were and was looking for people who had relations to come and identify them in order that she could put names to the faces. My grandfather was in a separate camp from the camp for which she had all the photographs which left me upset. The point she made to me was that she did not want to give the photographs to a museum to be put into a drawer or an attic and become even less alive than they are to her and her immediate family. With regard to any of these archaeological sites that are dug out, if an item is deemed sufficiently important to be taken out of the clay it should be important enough to be made available to the public. A web page is as good a way as any other. We are talking about technology being available to identify things. Computers are the way forward in terms of giving people access. The lady said she had all the information but would give it only on the basis that it would become a live piece of history for people to see and that it would not be put away. I hope archaeological finds become live to our children and future generations. We need to be able to show the reasons heritage is important.

Given that the Bill is particular to Carrickmines, I will touch on the issues it raises, namely, progress and destruction. The word "balance" is easy to say but hard to achieve because generally people are entrenched in their view on one side or the other. It is difficult to set out the steps to work toward achieving a balance. This Bill and the projects to which it relates shows up the juxtaposition of the right to keep what is historically important safe and yet advance the potential offered by development today. The challenge is to balance both, which the Minister is striving to do.

People have been critical of the planning of the Carrickmines project, but that is in the past and we are here to deal with the situation as it is. The protection of the site has been the primary concern of Government and legislation has been put in place. While a certain amount of finance must be allocated to meet the provisions of the Bill, what is equally important is that the community has a role in deciding what is important and what should be done with the sites in their locality.

TheLa Trinidad Valencera was found very close to Greencastle and much of the treasure from it, such as the cannon, was sent to Dublin, even though there is a maritime museum in Greencastle. It would have been much better to have housed the cannon in Greencastle if the facilities existed to keep it, and the community believes that they did and do. Decentralisation is a live topic, but why are all the archaeological finds centralised in Dublin? I chair the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and I believe that all the finds in a locality should be, where possible, housed there because it is a selling point for the area.

The community in Greencastle is working with the owners of the castle, which has national monument status and which I hope will come into State hands in the near future. The community wishes to ensure that those who access the castle without realising the danger to themselves or to the physical structure of the monument will in future be behind some form of protective barrier and will learn the story of the castle from the signs around it. The community wishes to set out a plan so that as manpower and resources become available, the castle would be restored. It is all very well to read the story of the castle, but it comes alive when one can point to a building and show how people lived from excavations.

Too often we are not sufficiently interested in what happened in our locality, and there is plenty of history if we explored it. In primary school, history should be a subject where children are given opportunities to reach out, touch and see what is tangible in their locality. I mention the castle in Greencastle because it is live issue and I wish the Department well in securing it as a State property. I hope the Department will leave the door open to the community because, in the Border areas, communities may access funding to expedite works to make the castle safe. No door should be closed.

It is important to take all the different interests into account. In the case of Carrickmines, where the State is trying to progress a motorway, it is important to weigh up what is in the public interest. I know the Minister has made a decision to try to facilitate the construction of the south-eastern motorway and, at the same time, the main archaeological elements of the site would be protected either by record orin situ. The importance of what existed is recognised but we must also see to the future.

The Bill also provides that road schemes with an approved environment impact statement setting out archaeological mitigation do not need further licences, but the Minister may issue directions relating to the mitigation, which is a procedure for dealing with newly discovered national monuments which had not been identified in the environmental impact statement. That balance is very important.

In section 2, the word "works" is defined as including development works of national, regional or local importance. To define what is important is very difficult because one may define it in the national context, but an issue of local importance may not have the same relevance at national level. From where I am coming, I am glad the definition incorporates works of local importance.

Section 3 clarifies the role of the Minister. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Department of Finance, the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and possibly other Departments have some role in property-environmental issues. When I wished to raise an issue of marine tourism, I approached the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and was told to approach the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. There is a need for an interdepartmental agency to ensure the best service when two or more Departments are involved. I would like to see greater co-operation between Departments. All those involved would have an interest in the issues, but do people have the opportunity to talk to each other?

Section 5 replaces section 14 of the principal Act. In the single-tier process, the balance is between people having an input and not all people having responsibilities. The obligation on the Minister to consult the National Museum of Ireland is important, as is the increase in the penalty from €62,000 to €10 million for interfering with a national monument without the necessary consent. It is very important that the Minister's consent is not required for works affecting a national monument where works are connected with an approved development because it avoids duplication. If a road has undergone a certain process surely it should not have to go through that process again. This raises the question of whether the first process is adequate but it should not be necessary to take the same course of action twice. I welcome section 5 which amends section 14 of the 1930 Act whereby, regarding national monuments newly discovered as part of the road development but not anticipated in the environmental impact statement, An Bord Pleanála can determine if the changes arising constitute a material alteration or are less or more significant. Reporting of the objects found under section 6 echoes my earlier comment, namely, we must have a situation whereby if items are to be found and are of significance people must be able to see them and they must continue to be a living issue.

For years in Donegal we did not make much effort in regard to listed buildings. When I asked why allocations for listed buildings were so small I was told the lack of numbers on the register meant we got a proportional allocation nationally but we have made progress on this. People have mixed views as they discover the limitations associated with listing such as curtailment of a planning application in the vicinity, or restriction on the type of adaptations that can be made, or the definition of the type of material that can be used in house improvement. This reopens the question of balance. If some people must maintain their property in a more costly fashion than others by using specific materials, not the cheapest materials, they need support.

This may not be relevant, but the thatching grants have been very important and while one cannot describe a thatched cottage as a national monument, it shows us what life was like many years ago and where we came from. Even though the number of thatched houses is diminishing they are very significant and remind us of our past from the time of the Famine to the present. Therefore, it is important to provide the thatching grant. While they are diminishing in my area, their significance is growing. We could do more to preserve what is there. We should also look at the clochans and small places like Ballymagaraghy and my own area, where as families have died out others have moved out. We should try to make history live.

I have mentioned the Greencastle Castle, and another site of local interest is General Montgomery's home in my town, yet it is falling into rack and ruin. Many would say the State should take it over but if we took over every significant building from where would come the funding to buy or maintain it? That is one of the anomalies in this debate. We are very interested in what lies under the clay that has not been discovered, yet there is so much above the clay that is already visible and is being lost every day to the elements. It is difficult to see Malin Head not being exploited as the most northerly point on the island but it good to see that the Donagh Cross has been taken away and improved and brought back to Carndonagh. I would like to see more done at the Grianan Ailigh particularly with regard to access for the disabled. Many positive things are happening with regard to signage for many of these places. There is a schoolhouse in Cooley just outside Moville and a graveyard. CE schemes have played a role in preserving places such as St. Mura's graveyard in Fahan that is linked to Florence Nightingale, and many other sites. We must look after what is above the ground as well as what is below. It is a very difficult balance but this Bill will assist in achieving it. As Deputy Durkan said, one could speak for a long time on this topic and I am glad another Bill on it will be produced before the end of the year.

I am glad to speak on this Bill which also deals with the consequences of breaking up Dúchas, some of whose responsibility has gone to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and to the Office of Public Works. A major change in the Bill is that it gives sweeping new and extraordinary powers to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is necessary, it is said, to allow the M50 development proceed and stop injunctions and so forth being brought against the continued construction of the motorway. The difficulty with this agitation is that it has left archaeologists with a very bad name, as if they were responsible for all the objections and injunctions. In fact other people, who are not archaeologists, are taking injunctions to halt construction projects. This Bill obviously does many things in that it gives very sweeping, extraordinary powers to the Minister under section 5 which amends section 14 of the 1930 Act, whereby the Minister can consent to all sorts of activities as outlined in subsection (1):

(a) to demolish or remove it wholly or in part or to disfigure, deface, alter, or in any manner injure or interfere with it, or

(b) to excavate, dig, plough or otherwise disturb the ground within, around, or in proximity to it, or

(c) to renovate or restore it, or

(d) to sell it or any part of it for exportation or to export it or any part of it,

To do all this the Minister must consult in writing with the director of the National Museum of Ireland but we do not know what "consult" means. Does it mean that the Minister just sends off a fax? He must do it no more than 14 days from the day the process of consultation was commenced, which is not too onerous, under the amended section 14(2)(b)(i) and (ii) and (c). This consent is subject to conditions determined by the Minister, not by the director of the National Museum. It is a very cosy and amazing arrangement. Once the Minister has sent off his fax within 14 days, he has consulted with the director of the National Museum and everything is fine. He does not have to consider archaeological grounds alone, he must also consider the public interest which would override the archaeological considerations. He is entitled to consider the public interest in allowing the carrying out of works notwithstanding that such works may involve all the things that nobody should do to monuments:

(i) injury to or interference with the national monument concerned, or

(ii) the destruction in whole or in part of the national monument concerned.

He must consider the public interest even when it involves these base acts against valuable archaeological sites. He has a discretionary regard to the extent that these things appear to be relevant to the Minister. He should take several factors into account but does not have to, he may have regard to them which is discretionary. This is a very sweeping power for the Minister.

We are all in favour of development and agree that it is extremely important but this is a carte blanche to the Minister to do whatever he likes, no matter how significant the archaeological treasure in question. That is a bit Irish, even if we are in Ireland. While there is urgency in getting on with this development it deserves more consideration than going through the Oireachtas in this way. It deserves at least an archaeological debate to ensure that experts can come up with the right balance. This seems to be another example of the Government’s rapid legislation response which it may live to regret.

If one could be sure that the final decision was based on the learned opinion of responsible archaeologists such as the director of the National Museum, who will merely be consulted, one could be more confident. However, the power lies with the Minister. This sets a precedent for the railroading through of whatever the Government desires. The Government should think more about its actions and about the people. This Administration has lost its heart and is governed by the god of economic gain.

The Bill deals with the south-east route of the M50. How would the Government deal with this matter if the road in question were the N5? Is it not time that we tried to achieve some form of regional balance? The mid-term review shows that the west has not fared well. The west is losing out and I am obliged to ask whether the Bill would be passed if it related to the N5 as opposed to the M50. I sincerely doubt that this would be the case. It is time that there was some positive discrimination.

I wish to comment on third party and vexatious or hoax objectives. The Bill does not deal with such matters. I was engaged in a valuable social housing project in respect of which I received a hoax objection. Someone wrote a letter to the local authority which accepted it on face value merely because a name and address were included. I had the matter investigated by the Garda, the local authority and a private detective and they all came to the conclusion that the person named in the letter and the Dublin address provided did not exist. They discovered on the site a block of flats in which many non-nationals were living. The private detective met the owner of the flats who stated that the had never heard of the person. The letter was a hoax but the local authority accepted it on face value, thereby delaying the project.

Behaviour of this kind interferes with valuable projects and causes them to be delayed or scuppered. In the instance to which I refer, the local authority seemed only to be concerned by the fact that it would encounter difficulty in trying to issue notices to this fictitious person with regard to what was happening. It was not concerned with my plight or what I was trying to do in terms of trying to provide housing for members of the local community and immigrants.

Hoax objectors need to be rooted out and behaviour of the kind to which I refer must be criminalised. There are also many objections which are vexatious in nature and a mechanism must be put in place to deal with these. It is not acceptable that people should be able to make vexatious objections. I accept that we live in a democracy but there are objections which are simply not acceptable. The Government must address these matters.

I asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he intended to criminalise hoax letters of objection. He stated that he intended to bring draft proposals before Government but that he had no proposal to amend the position regarding hoax objections. I asked if he would change the planning laws to make it a criminal offence to submit hoax letters of objection to planning applications and he informed me that regulations made under the Planning and Development Act 2000 provide that any person or body, on payment of the prescribed fee, may make a submission or observation in writing to a planning authority in respect of a planning application within a period of five weeks beginning on the date of receipt by the authority of the application. The person whose name was written at the end of the letter of objection to which I referred earlier did not exist but he or she was still classed as a "person or body" under the legislation. How can the Minister stand over that?

I was also informed by the Minister that any submission or observation received must state the name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. Once these are included, even if the person is fictitious and does not exist, he or she is still perceived as a bona fide person according to the Minister and must be accepted as an objector. Local authorities must acknowledge all submissions in writing but how can they acknowledge a letter from someone who does not exist? The only matter of concern on the part of the local authority in this case was that it would have difficulty in contacting the person, who did not exist, and providing them with notices. It was a perverse situation. I ask that the Department give consideration to this matter.

I wish to comment now on the need for people from rural areas to be able to live in such areas. An Taisce is a wonderful organisation in terms of how it deals with the preservation of Georgian houses, etc., and I have always had a great regard for it. However, it lost the plot when it came to rural planning. It was thanks to An Taisce that the Irish Rural Dwellers Association, of which I am a founder member, was born. That association engaged in consultations with the Minister and made submissions to the Government which has brought forward guidelines. We hope that progress will be made in this area. Perverse arguments were being put forward which ensured that people were not able to stay on the land. Farmers were supposedly the only people who could remain on the land. The latter are becoming a rare species in the west.

If the matter under discussion concerning the M50 related to the N5, the main road into Mayo, would the Government be taking steps to ensure that legislation was brought forward? Is it not time that legislation was introduced to deal with the neglect of the west and the lack of development of roads such as the N5? It is time that there was some positive discrimination, some balanced regional development or even a measure of equality.

The Bill gives the Minister the power to consult. I do not believe that is sufficient and I am of the opinion that the legislation should be withdrawn. At the very least, it should be amended in order that the person with whom the power should lie should be the director of the National Museum and not the Minister. Consulting is not sufficient. If the power lies with the director of the National Museum, it will give rise to greater confidence. The person named in the legislation should be the director because this could override third party objections.

As regards the development of the west, the national development plan was supposedly designed to provide balanced regional development. Indecon's mid-term review, however, clearly indicates that the NDP, the period of which runs to 2006, is behind schedule. There is no evidence of significant convergence between the Border, midlands and west region and the south and east region. Serious questions arise regarding value for money and the fact that funding appears to have been allocated to all regions with the exception of the west. The national spatial strategy was published in November 2002, almost three years after the publication of the NDP. If that is supposed to be the coherent national planning framework for Ireland for the next 20 years, what was the point in delaying the NDP to such a degree?

The country has done well in recent years. This Bill is concerned with developing a road into the south of the country. Despite a great deal of growth nationally, the west is lagging far behind. In my view, the Bill should address matters such as regional development because this would benefit the entire country and not just the south and east. It would also halt the migration to Dublin which, in turn, would reduce the cost of housing and make it more affordable. We are aware of the pressures on transport in the Dublin area. It is both difficult to get around the city or in and out of it. Traffic has been reduced to the pace of an ass and cart. People are only going as fast as they did 100 years ago. People may think they are riding high on the Celtic tiger but they are reduced to the pace of an ass and cart.

Does it make sense to put so much money into the south and east when the real opportunities lie in balanced regional development? This would ensure people would not have to come to Dublin to find jobs; they could find them in the west. This would help alleviate the congestion on roads in the south and east. I know what the roads are like in this area, as I have travelled on them and what I say is true.

In 2000, 9.8% of all new graduates with primary degrees were employed in the Galway, Mayo and Roscommon areas, while 62% found work in counties Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. It is no wonder traffic in the east is reduced to a snail's pace when so many people are in the area leading to congestion with which the roads and infrastructure cannot cope. Balanced regional development would allow people to stay in their local areas.

Nationally, net industrial output growth from the mid to late 1990s averaged 19% per annum, while the equivalent figure for the west was just over 7%. The western region has done badly in terms of industrial output compared with the mid-west contribution of 12.5%, 26.7% in the Dublin area and 27.6% in the south-east, yet the aim of the Bill appears to be to improve roads in the south and east. We are all for better roads and do not begrudge that area better roads, but what about providing better roads in the west as well? We should have a better standard of road throughout the country.

Is it not time to stop industrial grants going to the east and south? Why not keep them for where development is really needed — the west? This would lead to balanced regional development. Industrialists follow the money and if grants are provided for the west, people would go west and development would take place there.

According to the Central Statistics Office, disposable income in the western region was 7.8% below the State average in 2001. That indicates a disimprovement on the previous year's figure. Disposable income in Mayo and Roscommon is 15.5% and 14.7%, respectively, below the national average. Comparing the 2001 figure with five years earlier, it is evident that while the position of Galway improved in the period, the positions of Mayo and Roscommon disimproved.

The west is really slipping. The value of goods and services, gross value added, GVA, produced in that region shows the average output per person in the west is at minus 23.8%, significantly below the national average. It has increased by less than 0.5% above its 1996 level. That further proves the western region is not attracting its share of high value-added growth employment, the reason being that we do not have the infrastructure to support that investment.

The aim of the national development plan was supposed to be the delivery of investment in infrastructure through the economic and social infrastructure operational programme, but that has not happened. The Bill focuses on the road network in the south and east which will result in even greater investment in that area.

The projected figure for road investment in the south and east for 2000 and 2002 was €1.4649 billion and the actual expenditure was €2.0231 billion, which was 138.1% more than forecast. In the west, the projected expenditure was €858.3 million in 2000 and 2002 while the actual expenditure was €592.7 million, only 69.1% of the sum forecast.

One should compare the traffic congestion and other problems in the south and east with the west. Balanced regional development should be introduced and this must be reflected in the Bill.

I congratulate Deputy Cowley on making a case for the west and the need for balanced regional development. I do not suppose he is suggesting national monuments are an impediment to the creation of balanced regional development. I appreciate the points he made on roads infrastructure and how the Bill is being given priority in the context of the completion of the M50, which is extremely important for the economic life of the country. I do not claim to be an expert on the issues involved. I bring a lay person's view to these matters despite the fact that I am a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Bill has been drafted to address both the immediate consequences of the High Court decision in regard to the Carrickmines site and the longer term implications of that decision. The Bill will enable the necessary completion of the south-eastern motorway as well as providing a statutory structure for dealing with archaeological heritage in the context of the provision of other major road infrastructure.

The Bill re-enacts section 14 of the National Monuments Act to provide a one-tier consent process for works to a national monument whereby the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is sought for such works. The Bill also provides that the National Museum is to be consulted when such consent is sought. It exempts certain approved road schemes with an environmental impact assessment, EIA, from the need for consent on the basis that the EIA consent procedure will itself have made recommendations for archaeological mitigation. However, the Bill gives the Minister further power to issue directions on how any archaeological excavations or works are to proceed.

Regarding Carrickmines, the Bill explicitly exempts the M50 motorway from any further consent or licences so that excavations there can be finished once the legislation is enacted. The Bill also provides a new power to deal with unknown national monuments which may be discovered during the course of construction and which had not been identified in the environmental impact statement, EIS. In the most serious cases, it may require a new EIS to be prepared with a further round of public consultation. In addition, the Bill clarifies the transfer of functions to different Ministers and the Commissioners of Public Works under different statutory instruments.

The purpose of the Bill is essentially the completion of various road projects in the pipeline. These include the south-eastern route of the M50, the M3 motorway and the site at Woodstown on the N25 in Waterford, with which the Minister would be familiar, in addition to other road projects under consideration.

Many speakers have highlighted the importance of our archaeological heritage. The past is important and needs to be taken into account as we plan for the future. While archaeological heritage is also important from the point of view of tourism, I do not wish to over-emphasise that aspect.

I am not talking about commercial tourism but more about heritage tourism.

We are heading for the summer recess and I am reminded of a book I read during last year's recess,A Ghost Upon Your Path by John McCarthy who with Brian Keenan was a hostage in the Middle East. He came to Kerry to rediscover himself and come to terms with what happened to him.

Many people come to Kerry to rediscover themselves.

We all do that from time to time. Much of the book describes his travels around the county visiting old national monuments, old stones and high crosses. He describes in graphic detail what he has to do to find these places — go up boreens, over mountains, through woods, etc. It is an interesting read and demonstrates the abundance of archaeological treasures we have throughout the country. Kerry is only one example. Tom Barrington's bookDiscovering Kerry takes stock of archaeology in Kerry, among other matters, and is an example of how much is available on our doorstep. It demonstrates how important it is to ensure we protect our national heritage.

We need to consider the connection between our education system and our national heritage. Children, particularly in primary schools, should be encouraged to examine what is on their doorstep and what they pass by on their way to school. While there has been some flexibility in our education system in recent years, it is important to ensure the curriculum includes local archaeology so children know what is on their doorstep and acquire some concept of their heritage.

This Bill deals essentially with the Carrickmines issue. As a Dublin Deputy and a former Dublin city councillor I have not been involved in the planning for this particular project. However, my observations of the situation lead me to believe the planning of this project is not a shining example of how a major infrastructural project should be implemented. The litany of errors made on the project has been well documented. Delay after delay was the order of the day. We need to examine the legalities of such road projects and review how we build our motorways and roads.

Legislation is promised to fast-track infrastructural projects. The Carrickmines situation demonstrates the need for such legislation, particularly in the context of roads, but we must be careful about its introduction. We must have procedures in place for serious and adequate consultation and the legislation must have provisions which ensure local democracy.

This raises the essential dilemma referred to by other speakers. The unprecedented economic growth of recent years has made it clear that there is a conflict between the need to facilitate economic development and the need to protect our archaeological heritage. We must get the balance right. The Minister would need the wisdom of Solomon to do so. Achieving the balance will always be difficult, as we have seen in today's debate. Some people believe the Minister is taking too much power onto himself in the Bill and promised legislation while others feel there has been too much lethargy in the planning of such infrastructural projects.

I must make a case for the completion of the M50 and the south-eastern route. This road must be completed. We have often heard that all politics are local. I have listened to many of my constituents on Dublin's northside who are fond of holidaying in County Wexford in places such as Kilmuckridge, Rosslare, Courtown Harbour and elsewhere. The bottleneck on the route is of great concern to them. The particular people who have highlighted the problem to me are holidaymakers. The M50, however, is important for all sorts of people and for the economic life of the city. We have had enough delays on this issue. This Bill is necessary in order to ensure the project is completed and I hope it has a speedy passage through both Houses.

I was interested to read that there were protests at the gate of Leinster House yesterday with regard to this Bill and I read carefully what the protesters were saying. They believe that in the context of this Bill the Minister is taking too much power upon himself with regard to national monuments. Nevertheless, I was of the opinion that the existing National Monuments Acts always provided the power to consent to the interference with or removal of a national monument. I understand, therefore, that no major additional powers are being given to the Minister in this Bill and I hope he will give me an assurance on that.

I want to raise an issue which is of concern to me in a local context and to make a suggestion which I hope the Minister will take on board. In 1981 some 48 young people tragically lost their lives in the Stardust fire in Artane. After coming to terms with that terrible tragedy, the Stardust victims' committee took it upon itself to pursue a number of issues arising from that disaster. In December 1991, Dublin Corporation, as it was then known, invited artists to make submissions for the provision of a sculpture for the proposed memorial to be constructed in the Stardust memorial park in Coolock. In all, nine submissions were received and the winning entry was submitted by Robin Buick of Monkstown, County Dublin. The final selection was made by the public art advisory group of Dublin City Council in association with the Stardust victims' committee.

Dublin City Council has provided a major park in Coolock, known as the Stardust Memorial Park. In a section of that park there is a memorial to the Stardust victims and a piece of sculpture has been erected there. This section of the park is a beautiful place of reflection and is a commemoration of the Stardust victims. I suggest this place should be designated as a national monument to commemorate all victims of fire tragedies throughout the country, a national monument, so to speak. The families of the victims of the Stardust fire would welcome such an action. The Stardust victims' committee has a long agenda of issues which it wishes to pursue to ensure such fires never happen again. The families would be very pleased if this garden were designated as some form of national monument. I am not clear whether it can be done in the context of this Bill.

I ask the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to examine this proposal as he also has overall responsibility for the fire services. This is not an old monument as it is a relatively new place which has been constructed by Dublin City Council. Within the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, there should be scope to advance this proposal further and to make the Stardust Memorial Park and, in particular, the monument therein a national monument to commemorate the victims of fire tragedies throughout the country. I will pursue the matter with the Minister perhaps in the context of the second national monuments Bill which is promised or in the context of other legislation dealing with fire safety and fire legislation generally.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to comment on this Bill which Dubliners will welcome. They wish to see the M50 completed. The balance between economic development and the need to protect our archaeological history is recognised by the Minister in this legislation and in existing and future legislation. It is a difficult balance to achieve. There are many competing and vested interests. The Minister will need the wisdom of Solomon to sort out all the conflicts. I believe the balance has been achieved. I wish this Bill a speedy passage through the Oireachtas.

I enjoyed listening to Deputy Haughey's literary references, particularly his comment about a book by John McCarthy which I may be spurred to read. He writes about his return to his ancestral roots in County Kerry to try to discover himself following his ordeal. What struck me in particular in what Deputy Haughey said was that it was the journey towards these monuments which Mr. McCarthy was investigating as part of his own recovery that made up a significant part of the attraction of his visit to Kerry. I imagine him searching out on small quiet country roads, on foot in many cases. I imagine him seeing small things and seeing nature up close as he searches for an ogham stone or whatever.

Deputy Haughey's contribution made me think of another literary work, by Milan Kundera, the title of which I cannot recall. In the book the author expresses the idea that the journey is very important. He writes that we must be careful not to develop a society and a culture where the journey is ignored. One of my criticisms about the road building programme is the attention paid to getting Deputy Haughey's constituents down to Rosslare, even though it is a very admirable and worthwhile ambition. If we create a transport system in such a way that the actual journey is a dead experience on a motorway, we will have lost something. We must be careful the road building programme does not destroy our sense of ourselves.

I do not believe our programme is economically sound and it is environmentally disastrous. Our everyday journeys in life should not be grey, anodyne experiences, looking at a wall of concrete and competing with each other in cars as we rush along these new motorways which are all the same wherever they are. We are changing our cultured country dramatically. As well as being economic beings, we are beings who require spiritual and cultural sustenance and a sense of place, history and culture. In a way, that is the theme of this debate. We are almost down to a cost-benefit analysis between development for infrastructural purposes and this piece of archaeology or history or this monument in Carrickmines which could help us to develop a sense of ourselves and a sense of place.

Deputy Haughey said the argument was about whether the motorway should proceed. I do not believe that is the question. No one on this side of the argument is saying the motorway should not proceed, given the extent to which it has been built and it now being a matter of connecting up the other existing roads, and given the hardship being imposed on some of my constituents and others around Dublin. The argument is about the detail of that motorway plan when it comes to the national monument at Carrickmines Castle. The argument will go beyond that to the development of the planned M3 motorway between Clonee and Tara.

This Bill also has implications not just for the motorway at Carrickmines but also for all future developments in the State and especially for motorway development. Given the level of motorway and road building in the State, this Bill will have significant implications for our sense of ourselves, our sense of place and how we protect our archaeological and historic remains. This is a very important Bill and it is a misguided response to a problem which should have been solved in a different manner had this Minister and his Government shown any sense of humility or flexibility.

I have visited the Carrickmines site and studied the plans in detail. It seems clear to me and is clearly stated by all the campaigners that an alternative solution existed which would have protected most of the castle site, allowed the motorway to continue and not have significant cost implications. It proposed the downscaling or removal of the intersection or roundabout which comes off the motorway at this site. It is the roundabout rather than the motorway which will cover most of the castle area. Why was this alteration not considered? Rather than losing in court seven times, as he did due to his stubborn insistence on proceeding with the section of the road in question as planned, why did the Minister not amend the route, particularly as regards the roundabout?

A developer recently sought an alteration to an intersection close to the proposed Cherrywood town centre, which was similar to the Carrickmines intersection. He wanted to widen the road by adding further lanes even though the roads in the area are wide enough to cater for a new city, not to mention a planned new town centre. He encountered no difficulties and the new road plan was immediately processed with an oral hearing held by An Bord Pleanála and funding provided. The change, which was similar in scale to that required in the Carrickmines case, was given full Government support and effected immediately. For some strange reason, however, on the question of amending a roundabout and intersection of the motorway feeding the lands which have been the subject of so much controversy in the never ending planning tribunals, the Government refused to countenance change. Its decision is disgraceful and is the reason we are dealing with this reactionary Bill which runs completely counter to the original 1930 Bill. The latter was introduced to protect national monuments, whereas this Bill has been drawn up to allow the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the National Roads Authority ignore the original Act and effectively remove national monuments if they are located on the route of new road building.

To return to the Carrickmines site, while I am in favour of finishing the motorway at this stage, questions need to be asked about the type of planning taking place in our transport system, particularly in the area in which the Government is insisting the roundabout in question be located. Speaking on the necessity of the road and roundabout proceeding, the director of traffic in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council stated the M50 was an urban motorway, serving an urban area. Anyone who knows the land and area in question will know it is not an urban but a country area with small and narrow roads, such as the Glenamuck Road. The area should be protected as the last remaining green belt between ever sprawling Dublin and County Wicklow.

The Minister who is asking us through this legislation to give him massive powers and to trust him to protect our national monuments has shown recently that he does not regard this area of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown as a necessary green belt and is not concerned about Dublin sprawling into it. When the development plan democratically agreed by councillors was presented, for the first time ever, the Minister intervened stating that insufficient land had been zoned. He made no such interventions in Meath, Kildare, Wicklow and other surrounding counties where massive over-zoning occurred. In those cases, he had the right to intervene — almost a necessity in terms of the strategic planning guidelines — in order to try to stop mad rezoning of this nature from taking place. In the case of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council he did precisely the opposite on the grounds that it had not zoned sufficient land. As a result, massive further rezoning and development has occurred around the junction which, when built, will flatten Carrickmines Castle.

People now know the area in question. If one heads to Dublin from Enniskerry, which has also expanded dramatically, the only area left on which no building has taken place will be the small area around the Scalp on which it is impossible to build housing due to its cliff face. The rest of Dublin will merge into County Wicklow. The same process is taking place in the Shankill area closer to the coast. We have one large urban continuous sprawl which will be served by the roundabout it is being insisted must be built.

The roundabout will also serve the very lands which were so controversially rezoned. The route of the M50 motorway was not decided on the basis of transport needs or environmental considerations but on the basis of rezoning. It was chosen to favour the development of certain lands and the fact that a national monument was in the way did not enter the equation.

We still have a purely development-oriented Government. Someone quipped recently that the Government's definition of sustainable development is "sustained development" and that no consideration is given to the need to protect our culture and environment. This approach will eventually come back to haunt us by biting the economic hand that feeds us. A society that does not take into account its sense of culture and place loses its sense of values and, ultimately, becomes a poor place for economic growth and development.

I will make a further point regarding the area through which the M50 extension will run and in that respect Deputy Haughey is correct that all politics are local. Is the light rail line proposed for the area in which we insist on building a massive junction and road network being built? Despite the fact that it could help create and serve a real urban area, the answer is "No". Communities could be developed close to the Luas line, thus avoiding traffic jams. That is the obvious solution to developing urban centres and providing housing in the area but the Government has failed to provide money for it, although it provides money for motorways and changes legislation at the last minute to provide for massive roundabouts. Would it do the same to get a light rail extended which would make a massive difference to the daily lives of those who live in housing estates such as The Gallops, Ballyogan and Stepaside, from which children travel by car to 30 different schools every morning? The area has no public transport except a No. 44 bus which arrives once every hour.

All that is proposed are roundabouts and motorways which ultimately never work. No matter how many roads or spaghetti flyovers we build, the result will be more cars arriving on another part of the Dublin road network which cannot support them. Mathematically, this approach to traffic and transport management does not work and the sooner we learn that from almost every other developed country in the world, the better. We need to change tack by developing public transport instead.

During his row with the Labour Party spokesperson, Deputy Gilmore, the Minister happily stated that no sites of major archaeological significance had been found on the proposed Clonee to Kells bypass on the M3. I am informed that the NRA had originally stated in regard to this site that it expected two archaeological sites to be found. The route of the road was decided before any real analysis was done, which is a lesson we have not learned from a series of cases from Wood Quay through to Carrickmines. Before selecting any site, we should find out what archaeological sites are on the route. On this occasion, having chosen the route, we have found out from the NRA's own internal report that some 28 sites of archaeological interest are located along it. This is another example of how the NRA bases route selection on transport considerations only.

As Deputy Gilmore stated, the environmental impact statement system is phoney. In most cases the people who pay the piper receive from the consultants the EIS they want. They are written around the needs and aspirations of the developer, in this case the NRA. The same problem will occur on the Clonee section of the M3. At the last minute, sites of major importance will be found forcing a decision on whether to demolish them.

I will briefly address the intent of the Bill. Section 5, the real body of the legislation, replaces section 14 of the original 1930 Act. It was interesting and slightly ironic to note that the footnote in the Bill refers to "injury to national monuments", whereas the footnote in the original Bill refers to "prohibition of injury to national monuments". The footnotes say it all because the legislation will allow the Minister and, in particular, the NRA to injure national monuments where they see fit. The free-ranging conditions given to the NRA and the absence in most circumstances of a requirement to seek consent with regard to the action it proposes to take on national monuments, are remarkable. At a time when Ministers are being divested of regulatory functions and powers in other areas of Government which are then given to independent regulators, the Minister is pulling power back to himself in this Bill. Those powers will be particularly controversial in many cases. That is not appropriate.

Under the new section 14A(4)(a), the National Roads Authority is not required to seek sanction for altering or demolishing a national monument and the new section 14A(4)(d) sets out the Minister’s discretion to issue directions to the NRA. If that body has not done what is required, the Minister can issue directions to have a variety of things done to a national monument. The monument can be preserved, renovated, excavated or recorded, but the most remarkable wording is in the new section 14A(4)(d)(v), which states that a national monument can be demolished, removed, disfigured, defaced, altered, injured or interfered with. That remarkable subsection gives the Minister the power to do whatever he wants to any national monument should it get in the way of the cost-benefit analysis he has carried out.

The new section 14A sets out what the Minister must take regard of and the extent of his discretionary powers. Section 14A(6)(b) provides that he or she must take into account the cost implications, if any, occurring as a result of a direction being issued, or not as the case may be. That sort of clause would not have been introduced according to the very essence of the initial National Monuments Bill. Our country has changed for the worse. The 1930 Bill provided for alterations and changes to be made to monuments but carrying out changes purely on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis tells a sad tale about modern Ireland.

The Minister said that the Supreme Court decision on his issuing of a notice that the Carrickmines site could be changed was stopped on a technical hitch. A ministerial order amending original legislation is some technical hitch. I am told that with the six submissions the Minister received before making that order, he was informed clearly by those involved, the "Carrickminders", that he would not be able to act because of this so-called technical hitch. He still went ahead and was defeated in the Supreme Court. Rather than taking a series of court cases and getting into a legal quagmire, why did the Minister not work out what was or was not possible with those with whom he was negotiating? If he had listened, rather than acting on his own instincts, he might have saved a great deal of time and money in this case.

The 1996 order was set out on a good principle. Under the original order we were looking to learn some of the lessons from Wood Quay, as we were with the 1987 amendment to the original Act, which sought a full list of national monuments and sites. We failed to do that. We also failed to learn the lessons from Wood Quay and are now failing to learn the lessons of the Carrickmines case. We are proceeding with massive developments elsewhere which will have implications for the kind of country we have.

I praise those who have received huge criticism and opprobrium for their actions, like Mark Clinton, the archaeologist on the Carrickmines site. It was very difficult for him because he was employed there as an archaeologist but, courageously, he said that greed and ineptitude characterised the controversy over the castle and the building of the motorway and that it had been a disaster from day one. That was a remarkable comment from the archaeologist involved.

Likewise, while those taking legal cases may drive the NRA and others mad — those living in the area must be wondering why they have been waiting for so long — they are characterised not by a desire to act for the fun or power, as some speakers have said. They are motivated by a concern for our heritage, culture and environment. They have put themselves in a very difficult position and some of them face huge financial losses. If we had proper political discourse on environmental issues and a Government which did not ignore environmental issues, there would not be such a need for legal recourse. Issues could be sorted out at a political level if we had a Government which cared about the environment and which was willing to listen.

I welcome the chance to discuss the Bill. Although it is narrow in its focus — Carrickmines — we must take a broader focus on public transport and development of our road and rail infrastructure. I take issue with Deputy Eamon Ryan. Most of the people I see on the roads are members of the public. The roads are a form of public transport and we cannot dismiss the fact that the vast majority of people are forced to travel by road because we do not have a proper rail or bus infrastructure. We must realise that people are entitled to quality public transport. That does not just mean rail and bus services but a proper road infrastructure.

There is a sense from the Green Party and others that the only public transport mechanisms are rail and bus services. The facts are that we do not have this major investment in those services yet, although we are slowly getting there, and people must get from A to B. At present, the development of a proper road structure, in conjunction with developing rail and bus networks, is probably the cheapest way to do that. The tone of the debate today and for many years is that as soon as it is proposed to build anything, an objection is lodged. Often those objections come from the Green Party, which objects to almost everything possible. It objects to roads, golf courses——

We wanted the metro and Luas extensions.

——high-rise developments and rezoning. People in Dublin in particular should ask Deputy Ryan where they are to live. Where can they live? If we adopted Green Party policy we would rezone no lands, we would not allow high-rise developments and we would run out of land very quickly. While we have difficulties with high housing prices at present, if the Deputy's policies were pursued, exorbitant cost factors would be built into house prices.

I would develop Cork, Galway and Limerick. Would the Deputy object to that?

I would welcome that but to develop Cork, Galway and Limerick we would have to rezone lands. There were major objections in those cities to rezoning potential. It seems to be part and parcel of Green Party policy that regardless of merit, there is an automatic objection to any development, be it student accommodation or high-rise apartments. I could list a myriad objections.

We have an obligation to protect the past but we are also obliged to develop a proper infrastructure in this country to allow people to have a decent standard of living. This generation also needs to leave a legacy behind it. We must protect the past but we also have an obligation to ensure that, in the future, people can look back and say that decisions made in the 21st century were meritorious, positive and dynamic. If we live in the past, protecting it without ever looking to the future, then we would have a very dull, grey society. Deputy Eamon Ryan spoke of journeys on which people find themselves. People will find themselves stuck at bad corners on dangerous roads with no potential to progress.

The legislation only focuses on the M50 at Carrickmines but the broader thrust of the Government and society is to develop a dynamic economic policy which provides people with a good quality of life. Deputy Ryan's version of quality of life may be slightly different to mine but sitting in a lay-by between Cork and Dublin——

Sitting in traffic jams destroys quality of life and they result from road building.

As one travels between Cork and Dublin, I assure the Deputy the Rock of Cashel is a beautiful sight but I do not want to sit outside Cashel in a traffic jam for half an hour admiring it. I would prefer to take the new ring road to avoid the town and look at it from a distance.

Cashel is an enjoyable one and a half hour train ride from Dublin or Cork.

If I want to visit the Rock of Cashel, I will be able to leave the bypass and enter the town. Traffic must be taken out of towns to improve quality of life.

I am all in favour of bypasses.

Most members of the Green Party continually object to road developments, wherever they are proposed, regardless of their merit or whether a site of historic importance is nearby.

That is not true. We have called for the Ennis bypass for years and there are many similar examples. That is not what the Government is doing.

There have been footprints on our island for millennia. No matter where a road is proposed, a site of significant historical importance will be discovered and it may not necessarily be a national monument. If every site of historical importance was designated, a field would not be ploughed nor a motorway built.

This legislation covers national monuments.

Deputy Kelleher, without interruption.

I refer to sites of historical importance, including the sites of national monuments. We have a duty to move forward in an understanding manner.

The Carrickmines project was taken to the courts. The courts uphold the laws passed by us. The court made its decision on the basis of outdated precedents and laws. The Government is trying to introduce legislation and debate it in a positive manner.

Deputy Eamon Ryan referred to democratic accountability. It has been decided the Minister will make decisions. The current Minister is democratically elected but the Deputy has castigated him for giving the Minister of the day the necessary powers. The Deputy gives out about the National Roads Authority and other bodies but the minute the Government made provision for decisions to be made by a Minister who is democratically accountable to the people, he complained. We must have a fair and rational debate and the Deputy cannot cherry pick issues to suit his agenda.

With regard to Carrickmines, the Minister ignored the plans of the local authority. That was undemocratic.

However, when the Minister brought forward proposals to ensure democratic accountability whereby no outside quango would make the final decision, the Deputy complained. That is difficult to understand considering the Green Party continually states democratic accountability is the most important issue.

Rezoning is also important. House prices are causing major difficulties. The Green Party objects to every housing proposal, including social housing developments. While the party does not object to the principle of social housing, it will object to its location because of a lack of infrastructural development. While I understand that, we have a duty to house our own people.

I fully support the development of fixed, significantly high-density communities close to the centre of Dublin. There is significant potential for the development of Dublin and other high quality infield housing developments. That is the way forward, rather than developing the remainder of the green belt on the outskirts of Dublin, where the proper infrastructure is not in place. That is our positive vision of the future.

I thank the Deputy.

It would be helpful if Deputy Kelleher addressed the Chair rather than an individual Deputy.

It is important to hear the views of Opposition Members. They should be able to live by them.

As soon as proposals for high rise or affordable developments in Dublin city that will allow for proper development of rail and bus transport, which the Green Party supports, are made, there is an objection. Objections to proposals for developments such as golf courses in rural areas are made automatically, regardless of the merits of the proposals and without consulting local communities. I refer to developments in County Mayo and Doonbeg, County Clare. The local communities are supportive of the developments but people who may not even be members of the communities continually object. That is difficult to accept in the context of local democratic accountability. Local communities and their local authorities should make decisions on these developments. However, elements will ensure an objection is made and it will be fought in an aggressive manner without taking account of the needs of local communities. While I accept the Government must ensure the past is protected, we also have a fundamental duty to address issues affecting our future.

I refer to Farmleigh House and Government Buildings. Significant objections were made in the mid-1980s to their preservation when it was proposed. Commentators said it was a waste of money and the funding should have been spent elsewhere. If we adopted that attitude, nothing would be preserved. However, Opposition Members constantly say public funds are being wasted when such historic buildings are being refurbished. We are leaving treasures behind us and future generations can look back and acknowledge that, at the beginning of the 21st century, we did something positive to ensure our heritage and significant historic buildings were protected.

More often than not, people lodge objections to the preservation of these buildings and they make political capital in the short term. They maintain they have a vision for the future while protecting the past. It is cynical of those people to object out of one side of their mouths about expending funds on developments such as the plaza on O'Connell Street in Dublin. The street has major historic significance for the city and the State. A proposal was made to enhance the street and make it more dynamic so that people could enjoy it. Then fellows arrived on the street to chain themselves to trees as a political stunt. This is a positive development which people will enjoy for many years.

If the Green Party wants to be taken seriously, it must recognise people living in mainstream society who want to live in a vibrant economic community while, at the same time, protecting our culture and heritage. Those two concepts have not been married by the party.

They have not been married by the Government. That is what we want.

The party has been exposed because most of its public representatives, particularly in the European Parliament, have objected to almost every proposal that has been brought forward in this regard. They were found out in Dublin in the recent election. Other parties who also object to every proposals will also be found out.

Can the Deputy explain his party's failure in the recent election?

We will explain that following the next general election. The Opposition should not take comfort from the recent elections.

I compliment the Minister and the Department on acknowledging the significant traffic problem in Dublin city. The construction of the M50 should enhance the quality of life of communities along the commuter belt as it will be easier for people to travel to work and to other parts of Ireland. People want to travel and to enjoy a weekend break, whether in Rosslare or in the west. Deputy Eamon Ryan is basically saying people should not travel.

That is effectively what he is saying.

No, I am not.

He is saying to the people of Dublin that he is sorry but they should not be allowed to travel to the west, to west Cork——

I want them to have a choice.

Deputy Ryan should cease interrupting and Deputy Kelleher should address the Chair.

I can safely say that west Cork is a beautiful area but if we are realistic, there will not be a railway line to Bantry in the short term. Whether or not Paddy Sheehan, a former Deputy, wants one, it will not happen. In the meantime, we should have a quality road network to the west so that Dublin people can enjoy it andvice versa so that people from the west can come to the capital city which is not only Deputy Eamon Ryan’s capital, but is our capital also. We should be able to enjoy the capital city at the weekend or enjoy a coffee in a plaza-type atmosphere in O’Connell Street, yet most of the proposals have been objected to by the Green Party time and again.

That is not true.

I commend the Bill. While we must have democratic accountability, the minute it is proposed, it is objected to. There is the accusation that power is being given to the Minister to make cynical decisions. I do not understand the logic behind that accusation. The National Roads Authority is attacked for not being democratic but when the Minister brings forward proposals to ensure accountability in the Parliament, there are objections.

I wish the Minister well. A dynamic programme of public transport, including rail, bus and roads infrastructure, will be rolled out over the coming years.

It is not happening. There is a ratio of 4:1 in favour of roads in current spending.

I commend the Bill and castigate the cynicism of some of those who have spoken.

This amendment to the National Monuments Acts 1930 and 1994 is necessary to clarify certain matters relating to the division of responsibilities between the Ministers concerned, namely, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and the Minister for Finance together with the Commissioners of Public Works. This is an aspect of the Bill which many speakers have overlooked and have not addressed. They have focused on Carrickmines and on future roadworks. The break-up of the former Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht was a major step backwards. That Department was developing and was forming a distinctive, cohesive approach to our culture and heritage. However, just as it was becoming effective, it was scrapped.

There is major confusion as to which Department is responsible for different areas. The cohesion which was developing under the former Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht is no longer there. A previous speaker mentioned a conflict of interest in regard to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government because on the one hand, it is all about building roads, housing schemes and sanitary facilities while on the other, it is about protecting the environment. The Minister said the Bill is about trying to strike the balance between economic development and the protection of archaeological remains. That will be difficult for him and I see difficulties ahead for this Bill and for this approach.

Overall consideration will have to be given to how we deal with heritage, including the protection of national monuments. What people fail to understand is that not every monument in this country is a national one. Some monuments are in State care while others are not even listed. We should be careful and protective of our rich heritage which has been left to us as a result of several waves of immigration over the past 10,000 or so years. Throughout the world, Ireland is regarded as a country that is rich in archaeology and artefacts from the past. Many tourists come to this country because of our archaeology and landscape and it is important we protect them.

I welcome the provision in the Bill to allow the road at Carrickmines to go ahead. Were it not for the roadworks we would not have unearthed the rich archaeological site at Carrickmines and it would not have been excavated to the extent it was. It is worth noting that up to 130 archaeologists were employed at Carrickmines at a cost of approximately €20 million, as was mentioned by the Minister. Only 10% of the site will be affected by this major road. The artefacts discovered at Carrickmines will be on public display in the National Museum of Ireland or elsewhere. Perhaps it might be a good idea to provide an exhibition centre at Carrickmines in that it could be another attraction.

I agree with what is happening in regard to the M50 motorway. This Bill enables the Minister to ensure important infrastructure, such as the M3 from Clonee to Kells in County Meath and the Waterford ring road, which will face difficulty given the discovery of the oldest Viking settlement in Ireland, can be developed. I am sure every speaker would agree it is important that proper archaeological excavations are carried out, that they are not conducted in a rushed fashion and that modern technology is used to ensure we do not damage the rich archaeological heritage beneath the surface throughout the country.

We have become a little careless in regard to our national monuments. It is almost a regular occurrence that monuments in State care, in particular, can be interfered with. Nobody is taking responsibility for the implementation of legislation at local level. Local authorities have, to some extent, been given responsibility, but it has not been fully clarified and they have not been given the resources. There is, for example, a heritage officer in most counties but he or she has many responsibilities. Some counties have appointed archaeologists. There is much work to be done and most of these archaeologists are tied up with some of the major infrastructural work going on throughout the country. Some monuments which are not in State care are being damaged but nobody is responsible for them. These monuments may become national monuments when we have taken care of existing ones. That is a major issue.

I repeat the point I made earlier that when the former Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht was in place there was a greater focus, more cohesion and confidence.

Responsibility for our heritage is being dispersed over a number of Departments. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is not the appropriate one to have responsibility for this matter. A serious overview must be taken of how we should proceed in this area in the future. I hope future legislation will reflect that.

Debate adjourned.