National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this important Bill. I welcome the thrust of the Bill as presented to the House. During the debate on the Bill last week, one of the finest contributions was made by a Member from the opposite side who explained her support for the Bill clearly, succinctly and reasonably.

For approximately 16 years I was a member of the national monuments committee of Cork County Council. The committee was set up in 1985. It is a great pity that more councils throughout the country did not follow our example in setting up such a committee. In 1985, despite a meagre budget of £25,000, we did tremendous work. There were a number of non-elected members on the committee — people with a particular interest in archaeology, the environment and monuments generally. I will not give their names, but their contribution was immense. We travelled to Goleen, Barryscourt and other places where amazing work was done in designating national monuments and so on. If that model was followed by other counties, the problems we face today may not have occurred. I am not aware of any other local authority that has a national monument committee, and that is regrettable.

In every electoral division in Cork the committee considered archaeological sites of all types, including forts, churches and old castles, such as Castle Donovan in west Cork. Places of interest were logged and mapped and records were kept by Cork County Council. Whenever a development was carried out the local planners were aware of artefacts, monuments or sites of archaeological importance that might be impinged upon and the county council was given advance warning.

This Bill is the result of the Minister's duty to find a balance between development and conservation. Motorways and water and sewerage schemes need to be built and a balance must be found in the interest of the common good. I chaired the Joint Committee on the Constitution during its consideration of property rights and one of the main themes that emerged was the common good. Should projects be delayed in the interest of the common good? If we are to be parochial, we could take the example of the snail that held up construction of the Kildare bypass. In my area, a water scheme has been held up since 1985, when a public hearing took place at which the then Department of the Environment and Local Government decided to reschedule the scheme because of a water lily. The scheme was later moved at great expense and delay. The Minister has allocated funds for it and, I hope, building will be commenced shortly. In another area the discovery of an otters' bed resulted in an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, which resulted in further delays.

There are 20,000 people in Cork whose water supply is inadequate. This scheme is being held up because of certain extreme elements. The water lily concerned has since vanished of its own accord after costing the Department several million euro. I looked for the otters' bed in a location near the sea and a local man in his late 70s told me he had not seen an otter in the area for more than 40 years. Sometimes we need to get a grip on reality.

This Bill focuses on the problems created by the Carrickmines Castle site. Of course we must take into account the importance of archaeological and heritage sites such as this. However, there are similar sites everywhere in the country because of our ancient heritage. We must decide on these in the interest of the country and the people who live here. We must protect our heritage without going too far.

This Bill gives the Minister power to make a direction in certain circumstances. This is a sensible provision. Somebody must grasp the nettle. If there are delays which cost the taxpayer millions, the Minister is accused on the one hand of delaying projects and on the other of not protecting the environment. Somewhere in between there must be a fair balance. The Minister must be lauded for achieving that balance in the Bill. I have been a Member of the Oireachtas for almost 11 years and I have seen Ministers hammered over delayed projects. Questions are raised such as why this or that water scheme is not going ahead, why there is no major sewerage scheme and why this or that motorway is not finished.

One will find some item of archaeological interest in every part of Ireland if one digs. In my area, the Sheep's Head Peninsula, there is a hill-walking committee called Slí Muintir Bheara, with which I am involved. With the help of people who are enthusiastic about going on walks and investigating historical sites, we discovered, with advice from experts in UCC, what we thought was a cláirín of stones on top of a mountain called Seefin. This turned out to be a megalithic tomb which, it was later confirmed, dates back to 2000 BC. We discovered two or three more of these in the Beara Peninsula. The town of Castletownbere was built facing towards the mountains for fear of attack from the sea. Sensible people will support the protection of important archaeological finds.

I do not have figures but perhaps when replying the Minister might indicate the cost in economic terms of delays during the past seven years since this Government took office. What were the legal costs of going to court? I do not deny that people have a right to object. In this instance, An Bord Pleanála was involved and will continue to play a role. However, I would like the Minister to give some indication, not necessarily today but perhaps some time before the Bill is concluded, of the cost to the taxpayer of delays in proceeding with projects such as the N11, the Dundalk by-pass or the Kildare by-pass. There was fierce criticism following the spending of millions of euro on electronic voting but, listening to today's debate, people probably regret that it was not introduced. However, it will be introduced at some stage. What we want to know is the real cost associated with delays to such developments as the M50.

To people who might say I am anti-environment, I am not taking away from the argument put forward regarding the importance of the historical Carrickmines Castle. However, the completion of that part of the M50 is of critical importance not alone to people living in and commuting to Dublin but to the whole country. We need a network of motorways, and we have made significant progress throughout the country. However, we are some years behind the European model which has a network of road and rail, and particularly motorways, throughout developed Europe.

Motorways and infrastructure developments are planned for many years. The plans for the Cork-Dublin motorway have been in existence for the past two decades. The plans for the M50 have also been in existence for a long time. The Supreme Court granted an injunction against Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in relation to the Carrickmines site. The court was unhappy with the current legislation. Consequently the Minister was obliged to bring in this amendment Act of 2004 to get around the difficulty.

The Bill will make provision for appropriate protection of our archaeological heritage along the routes of approved road developments, including the south-eastern section of the M50. It is not a case of giving the Ministercarte blanche to drive motorways and pipelines through any part of Ireland with absolute disregard for our heritage, our archaeological sites and national monuments. I congratulate the Fine Gael spokesperson who spoke on this last week. I reject the notion being bandied about by some parties that this Government has no desire to protect the environment and our heritage. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Historically, one person who promoted our heritage and national monuments and was one of the leading lights in this regard was former Taoiseach, Mr. Charles J. Haughey. He was particularly supportive of the national monuments committee in the mid-1980s, a time when finances were strapped. I was a member of that committee for a number of years. It was a cross-party committee representative of all sides. Its budget was increased to close to €0.5 million. It is still quite small, but the committee works in conjunction with the OPW, another State agency, and the council. In all the areas we visited throughout the county, from Mitchelstown and Youghal to west Cork, the support of local engineers and the consultation process were second to none. It galls me to hear the current Government accused of lack of interest in heritage. Over the past 20 to 25 years of my political life, going back to my student days, this Government has always had a very strong handle on and a realistic and common-sense approach to the environment. I want to emphasise that the former Taoiseach, Mr. Charles J. Haughey was one of the most outspoken in his support for preserving our heritage and national monuments. The work he did then was ahead of his time and I want to acknowledge his significant contribution.

The Joint Committee on the Constitution, which I chaired, examined the issue of property rights in the context of infrastructure and so on. That committee was composed of members from all parties. Its deliberations were delayed for a couple of months in order to allow in other small groups — Sinn Féin, the Independent group and the Green Party. The committee came to certain conclusions which were supported by an eminent constitutional lawyer, Mr. Gerard Hogan. It was clearly of the view that Article 43 of the Constitution, which was set up in 1937 by the then Government and President, allowed for what it called the common good. We must consider the common good when building motorways. In some instances we are inclined to disregard it. The traffic problems involved in building motorways cause us all headaches and stress, but we must build them. We must make sensible provision, but we cannot allow every inch of the way to be stopped by protesters and court action and so on. If that happens we will need to do a serious economic analysis of the loss to the taxpayer that results when various projects are delayed. We are now in an era of great economic growth. Significant progress has been made in the past decade or so. This growth may not exist in ten or 15 years. We must, therefore, proceed while we have that advantage and take into account that in our booming economy traffic counts were never higher. I examined figures relating to the period from the middle 1980s to 2000, which show that the volume of traffic on our roads quadrupled. That created its own problems.

I want to put it on record that this is a caring and forward-thinking Minister. He must grasp the nettle. Thinking about the famous lily which upset our water supply in Bantry and has since died, the Minister must gild the lily, move forward and make sensible provision. This Bill does not give the Minister draconian powers. He will not be able to drive a coach and four through the legislation. The Bill contains safeguards. There is provision for a consultation process, and the issue may also be taken up by An Bord Pleanála. In a nutshell, the Bill allows the Minister to make decisions and give directions. I am certain that such decisions will not be taken lightly. We have a country whose young people are well educated and cognisant of our heritage, archaeology and monuments and they want to protect them.

Coming from an area which is very dependent on tourism, particularly places such as west Cork and Kerry, I have noted the numbers of people who now visit our country from mainland Europe and America and even China and the Far East.

Coming from an area which is very dependent on tourism, particularly places such as west Cork and Kerry, I have noted the numbers of people who now visit our country from mainland Europe and America and even China and the Far East. These visitors come here to explore our fairly unspoiled heritage. Barryscourt Castle in east Cork, which is run by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in conjunction with the OPW, is an excellent example of a castle which was falling into decay and which has now mushroomed. It has been protected and there is now an information centre there. The last time I was there one could look around and have a coffee in the coffee shop. That type of facility is the product of successful, caring Governments. I have already mentioned Charles J. Haughey but over the last few years successive Governments have not turned their back on the environment. I will take issue with anyone on that.

I support this Bill. It is necessary and we must take account of the common good in the development of this country. We must not delay forever large developments like the M50 or the eastern link road by neglecting the common good. It will cost the taxpayer a lot of money and it will cause many headaches for the general public. If it were to come to a plebiscite of the people of Dublin, they would want to protect their heritage, they would take account of the archaeological findings, but progress has to be made.

Many of those who visit from abroad come to take in our history, culture and heritage. Many of the American tourists that I meet around Cork city would be off to Florida if they were looking for the sun. The Europeans that come from Germany and Italy would be in the Costa del Sol or the Algarve. They come to enjoy the richness of our history and heritage. They even endure the rip-off Ireland culture that is there so that they can enjoy that history and culture. As a result, it is even more important that a Bill of this nature is given the scrutiny and examination it requires. I resent the fact that it is being guillotined this evening at 10 p.m. with a vote. I also resent that it will go to Committee Stage tomorrow, at a time when the Residential Tenancies Bill 2004 is on Report Stage. We do not have the gift of bilocation so there is the possibility of a clash between the consideration of both Bills. The Minister has his two able Ministers of State. The deputy spokesman on the environment in my party, Deputy McCormack, will deal with one of them. However, it is important that this Bill not be rushed and that it be given the consideration it deserves. Even though the Bill has many merits, the reservations raised by many outside the House deserve examination and scrutiny. It is unwise of the Minister to guillotine this Bill and to rush it through Committee Stage tomorrow. There should be no presumption that this Bill will be passed tonight but the Government has arrogantly tabled Committee Stage for tomorrow as it is confident in its weight of numbers.

The publication of this Bill arises from a decision made in the courts last January and since then I have been told that the situation has deteriorated in the Carrickmines area. Putting forward this Bill, the Minister had to deal not only with the Carrickmines issue but the possibility of many other cases arising in the near future such as the M3 and the troubles that may arise at Tara and the N25 which is the Waterford city bypass in the Minister's own backyard. The problem that has arisen in Carrickmines has given rise to a significant cost for the local authority, the taxpayer and every commuter, resident and business. The court judgment has had significant implications not only for Carrickmines but for every other road development in the future. The role of the National Roads Authority has been questioned by previous speakers and the cost implications were reflected in the news yesterday that the N8 Rathcormac and Fermoy bypass is one of 11 new public private fee paying schemes being developed by the NRA.

It is estimated that €300 million will be paid in tolls each year by motorists who will finance these projects. I find it hard to accept that taxpayers who have paid income tax, road taxes and many stealth taxes introduced in the last 12 months, will now be caught again by the tolling of these roads. That will add to the competitiveness difficulties experienced by our businesses and industries. This Bill is also being discussed against a background of damage to a major prehistoric coastal fort on the Dingle Peninsula. The heritage section of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government ordered an assessment of the damage done to that major prehistoric coastal fort after part of the linear fortification earthwork was flattened during what is believed to be land reclamation activities.

I am asking the Minister to state why there is no ministerial preservation order on the Dún Mor Fort, a major coastal fort in use from 1000 BC until the early Christian period. I understand the monument is listed as a national monument but that no agreement is in place on how the land could be farmed around the monument without interference with the fort. The Department has claimed that new legislation will be introduced shortly which will see a root and branch overhaul of existing legislation on the protection of monuments and how the protection may be enforced, especially in view of the fact that all but 1% of recorded monuments are on private land. When will we see legislation to address these issues and how will the legislation address the issue of the protection of national monuments on private land? What is the situation regarding the standing stone with ogham inscriptions in the fort situated on about 80 acres and which is possibly the largest coastal fort in Ireland?

This Bill is not a comprehensive Bill but at the same time it has provoked conflicting reactions. The 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 study rather than waiting for the courts to adjudicate on the matter. Our national monuments need to be preserved because we must value our history and our past and our national monuments should only be interfered with where there is no alternative. When a situation arises where a unique and irreplaceable monument of archaeological value and significance is discovered, an alternative route for a proposed road must be found. As has already been stated by Deputy Olivia Mitchell who is familiar with the situation in Carrickmines as it is in her area, the core of the dispute is whether what was discovered is archaeologically unique or merely of historical interest. The problem, as she has pointed out, is the designation of what constitutes a national monument. How is a national monument designated?

The Minister referred to the archaeological remains at Carrickmines as a national monument. This classification has never been accepted by the county council and there was no one to adjudicate on it. One side of the dispute claimed it was a national monument while the county council stated it was not. However, in the absence of objective criteria, the council was put in an impossible position of having to apply for consent to interfere with a national monument. Despite no official classification, the county council applied for permission to interfere with the historical remains at Carrickmines, the Minister gave his consent, it was appealed to the courts and the appeal was upheld on a technicality which had nothing to do with the merits of the case.

A major flaw of this Bill is that it does not deal with the designation of a monument and therefore leaves every road project open to the accusations that its path goes through a national monument. The designation of a national monument must therefore be clarified. Comprehensive legislation is urgently needed and we are not too sure when it will be brought before this House.

Given the unsatisfactory and uncertain nature of the situation, it is the responsibility of all agencies dealing with projects involving taxpayers' money to ensure that the initial investigation and the environmental impact assessment are comprehensive and conclusive to avoid a repeat of what we witnessed in Carrickmines. Like the balance that should be in place between industrial development and protection of our environment, there should be no tension between infrastructural development and preserving our heritage. We must have balance in the issue. Our national monuments, which are unique and irreplaceable, must be preserved and alternative routes found for our roads.

I thought the Bill would attempt to lay out clearly the procedures for dealing with discoveries despite that the designation of those discoveries is still not clear. However, since then I have received a copy of an opinion on the Bill which should and must be read into the record. The Minister has a major responsibility to reply to the issues raised by the opinion of senior counsel, Frank Callanan, on the Bill. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to read into the record the full opinion, but I will deal with some aspects of it which I believe require a response. It states:

The National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004 has a number of immediately striking objectionable features as a piece of proposed legislation. That does not mean that there are not others which are not immediately apparent but are fully intended by the Minister and this renders both the speed of it and the lack of consultation surrounding this legislation reprehensible if not sinister. [They are strong words.] The Minister of course seeks to justify the speed of this Act's introduction to the situation prevailing at Carrickmines.

The Bill is however not limited to Carrickmines nor is it even limited to what might be called crisis management in the construction of roads. It is profound and radical change to the provisions of the existing national monuments legislation for the protection of national monuments in Ireland contained in the National Monuments Acts 1930-1994.

The legislation reflects a long standing consensus in Ireland in relation to the treatment of national monuments not merely among political parties but among the broad community of officials and experts concerned with the preservation of Ireland's archaeological and historical heritage. It is proposed to dismantle that consensus without permitting a proper national or even parliamentary discussion. This legislative scheme is almost as old as the Irish state. The Minister has advanced no grounds to justify what might itself in legislative terms be characterised as an act of vandalism. No justification except of course Carrickmines...

One might have expected that in relation to a major legislative change of this kind the Minister as part of a process of public consultation would have produced some form of comparative study as to how other European states address these issues. He will not do so no doubt for the very good reason that it would expose the gross deficiencies of this legislative scheme...

The proposed amendment to section 14 of the principal Act by substitution of the criteria on which the Minister is to exercise his discretion so that it is not limited to archaeological considerations is utterly retrograde and removes any settled basis of the exercise of a ministerial discretion ... Again, this goes far beyond the Carrickmines issue to which the Minister ceaselessly harks back and seeks to pre-empt legal challenge across the range of national monuments. It is the evisceration of the protection conferred by the existing Act. The Act is concerned with the removal of both legislative and judicial safeguards. It is, as legislation, deeply irresponsible, and is quite likely to have the effect of involving the courts in the determination of controversial issues which ought never to have arisen and to have been addressed by some form of legislatively created arbitral process.

As stated earlier I do not have time to read into the record the full opinion but it further states:

The hands of An Bord Pleanála are tightly bound in making its determination that a material alteration is likely to have significant adverse effect on the environment by Schedule 2. An Bord Pleanála has no role in relation to the national monuments aspect of the matter other than to have regard to 'landscapes of historical cultural or archaeological significance.' So, the one apparent institutional check on the Minister is nullified, apparently intentionally, in relation to the national monuments aspect.

Will the Minister explain why he did not address the issues described by the courts as technical hitches or glitches rather than introduce a Bill which has greater implications for infrastructural development and the preservation of national monuments? Beyond the Carrickmines issue, the Bill diminishes the protection appended to national monuments and removes safeguards. Is this the price we must pay for the serial litigants intent on delaying progress on every major infrastructural project? In other words, are we using a sledgehammer to crack a nut?

Is trua liom gur tháinig an lá a bhfuil an tAire ag tabhairt a leithéid de reachtaíocht isteach. Tá sé gránna a leithéid de reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach i dtír a bhfuil an oiread sin stuif stairiúil faoin talamh inti. Go háirithe nuair atá cuid mhór de eacnamaíocht na tíre ag brath ar thurasóireacht, tá sé náireach go dtugann an reachtaíocht seo cumhacht don Aire seandálaíocht agus stair na hÉireann a scrios. Ní cóir go mbeadh an chumhacht sin ag duine amháin. Is le muintir na hÉireann amach anseo an stair agus an tseandálaíocht. Ní cóir go mbeimis ag scrios ár n-oidhreachta, fiú leis an rachmas atá againn. Sin atá ag tarlú i Carrickmines agus i Trim agus sin a tharla sa chathair seo thar na blianta.

Níl sin ceart.

Tá sé ceart. Cá bhfuil Wood Quay agus Frascati House anois? Scriosadh iad. Scriosadh dhá theach Georgian i mBaile Átha Cliath an tseachtain seo caite. Scriosfar an chuid de sheandálaíocht na tíre amach anseo mar atáá dhéanamh i Carrickmines. Is é an scéal céanna i Tara, áit a bhfuil an Rialtas ag iarraidh bóthar a chur trí gach cuid de stair agus oidhreacht na tíre. Tá sin scanallach.

I mBaile Átha Thrim tá an Rialtas ag iarraidh caisleán álainn a chlúdach; trí ligint dóibh óstán a thógáil in aice leis. Tharla an rud céanna do Phríosún Chill Mhaighneáin i mo cheantoir féin. In áit a bheith ag cur le hoidhreacht na tíre, a bheith ag cuidiú leis agus ag iarraidh turasóirí a mhealladh go dtí an tír, tá an Rialtas ag iarraidh na suíomhanna seo a scriosadh. Scriosadh iomlán atá i gceist, mar a tharla sa Dún Mór. Is é an t-aon difríocht go mbeidh cead an Rialtais ag pé tógálaí atá ag iarraidh an scriosadh a dhéanamh. Deir tógálaí leis an Aire gur cheart dó cead a thabhairt dó mar ba mhaith leis an rud sin a scriosadh. Tá sé sa bhealach, agus sin an dearcadh a bhíonn ag an Rialtas seo i gcónaí maidir le seandálaíocht na hÉireann. Tá sí sa bhealach roimh an dul chun cinn eacnamaíochta atá i gceist. Seo cuid eile den mheon céanna. If it is in the way, they want to get rid of it, hide it or concrete it over. Tharla sé sin sa chathair seo thar na blianta. Scríobhadh leabhar iontach——

That sounds very like Sinn Féin with the IRA.

The Minister is looking for them to do that.

They will tell no one where it is.

Yes, bury it, just like the Minister is burying our history. Má tá an tAire ag iarraidh, tógfaidh mé timpeall na suíomhanna sa chathair seo é, áit ar chuir an Rialtas coincréit ar stair agus oidhreacht na tíre. Is é sin an meon scannalach gránna a thagann ón Aire i ngach uile ábhar atá ag baint le seandálaíocht. Scriosann séé, mar ní fiúé dó. Cuireann sé bóthar ann. Tá sé scannalach go mbíonn sé i gcónaí ag dul thart á dhéanamh sin. Cuireann sé coincréit air.

They are like the Marxists over in Europe.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

That makes it fairly clear.

Gabh mo leithscéal, a Aire, ach táimid ag caint faoi cheist stair agus oidhreacht na tíre seo. Níl an tAire sásta éisteacht, agus níor éist séó thosaigh an díospóireacht seo. Tá sé scannalach nach bhfuil sé sásta éisteacht sa Teach seo ar cheist na seandálaíochta agus na hoidhreachta. Téir suas go Teamhair, agus scrios í. Téir síos go Port Láirge, agus scrios an suíomh nua sin. Is é sin an meon scannalach atá ag an Aire — corruption. Tá sé ceangailte go huile is go hiomlán leis an dream atá ag scriosadh na tíre seo agus ag baint airgid as. Is é caimiléireacht go huile is go hiomlán atá ag baint leis, mar níl aon fháth eile leis an reachtaíocht seo ach go bhfuil caimiléireacht taobh thiar de. Bhí caimiléireacht taobh thiar de na rudaí a tharla i dTroim.

Níl sé sin ceart.

Tá sé ceart. Ba chaimiléireacht go huile is go hiomlán é, agus tharla sé sin sa chathair seo maidir le Cé an Adhmaid. Caimiléireacht a bhí ann sin, agus bhí caimiléireacht i gceist i gCarraig Mhaighin. Níl aon fháth go mbeadh Jackson Way bainteach leis seo, ach tá sé, mar tá caimiléireacht ann, agus tá muintir pháirtí an Aire gafa leis go huile is go hiomlán. Ba chóir dó seasamh suas agus náire a bheith air. Ba chóir dóéirí as a phost. Is é ard atáá dhéanamh aige ná comhshaol, stair agus oidhreacht na tíre seo a scriosadh. Níl muidinne sásta glacadh leis sin, agus ní ligfidh muid dóé sin a dhéanamh. Ní ligfidh muid dó i dTeamhair. Ní ligfear dó i gCarraig Mhaighin. Tógfar cásanna eile cúirte, agus cuirfear moill air. Bhí an deis ag an Aire——

The Deputy does not have any policies.

Bhí an deis ag an Aire déileáil leis an cheist i gCarraig Mhaighin ar bhealach éifeachtach agus dul timpeall air, ach ní raibh sé sásta glacadh leis sin toisc go raibh airgead i gceist. Tá airgead taobh thiar de seo, agus sin an cheist nach bhfuil sé sásta a fhreagairt. Tá sé sásta bheith ina sheasamh ansin ag screadaíl orm, mar tá mé ag insint na fírinne; níl seisean. Mar a dúirt mé faoin Teamhair, tá sé ag iarraidh bóthar mór a chur tríd. Dúradh ag an am nach raibh ach dhá shuíomh seandálaíochta ann. Cheana féin, tá breis agus 28 suíomh nua faighte timpeall an cheantair sin. Ba cheart don Aire an plean a athrú seachas dul i ngleic le oidhreacht na tíre seo. Ba cheart dóí agus a leithéid de Charraig Mhaighin a chaomhnú. Tiocfaidh na turasóirí, mar sin an fáth go dtagann siad go dtí an tír seo sa chéad dul síos. Seachas é sin a dhéanamh, áfach, cuireann an tAire coincréit air. Seans go dtiocfaidh postanna as sin ar feadh cúig bliana. Má dhéanaimid caomhnú agus cur chun cinn ar ár n-oidhreacht agus ár seandálaíocht, beidh níos mó turasoirí ag teacht go dtí an tír seo. Beidh níos mó daoine ag teacht. Ba cheart don Aire smaoineamh.

I have never heard such rubbish.

Níl an bruscar á ra agamsa ach aige féin.

He comes in here and pontificates.

Deputy ÓSnodaigh should be allowed to make his contributions without interruptions.

This is Dáil Éireann. This is called a democracy.

Tá an tAire ag déanamh iarrachta mé a mhaslú. Is eisean an duine is gránna sa Dáil seo. Más féidir leis, fiú, éisteacht leis na ceisteanna agus na pointí atáá ndéanamh——

This is lost in history.

Thig leis leanúint ar aghaidh ag maslú. Sin cé chomh híseal is atá sé. Tá sé maslach toisc go bhfuil náire air faoin rud atá sé ag iarraidh a dhéanamh. Níl sé sásta, fiú, cead a thabhairt do Ard-Mhusaem na hÉireann dul ar an suíomh. Cad é a tharlóidh má fhaightear rud nua amuigh i gCarraig Mhaighin i gceann míosa nó dhó? Ní bheidh cead ag an musaem dul ann, mar tá an tAire gafa go hiomlán le caimiléireacht. Cé mhéad breabanna atá an tAire agus daoine cosúil leis tar éis glacadh? Tá daoine ar an taobh sin den Teach ag glacadh breabanna le 30, 40 agus 80 bliain. Tá an tAire agus a leithéidí tar éis glacadh leo le déanamh cinnte go mbeadh rachmasaithe na tíre seo ag scriosadh stair na tíre seo go huile is go hiomlán. Dhein siad é ar Wood Quay, áit ar thóg an bardas. Scrios siad an t-aon suíomh mór-le-rá san Eoraip ag an am. Cá bhfuil sé anois? Níl faic ann. Is cuimhin liom bheith ar an mhairseáil ag iarraidh é sin a chaomhnú. Is cuimhin liom dul amach sa chathair seo.

The Deputy's party is very good at that. That is what they are for — kneecapping people and bombing people.

An bhfuil an tAire críochnaithe? Níl.

They were going around murdering people.

The Minister will cease interrupting.

Táimid ag déileáil le ceist amháin anseo. Má tá an tAire ag iarraidh déileáil leis an cheist sin, ba cheart dóí a chur síos ar an ord-pháipéar, agus déanfaidh muid díospóireacht leis ar an cheist sin. Táimid ag díriú ar cheist amháin. Tá an tAire maslach. Níl sé sásta mé a fhreagairt i nGaeilge, fiú, ach níl sí aige, mar níl spéis nó suim aige i stair nó oidhreacht na tíre seo. Tá sé maslach agus náireach. Imíodh leis. Ba chóir dóéirí as a phost, mar ní féidir leis díospóireacht a dhéanamh ar an ábhar os a chomhair. Ní féidir leis, mar tá náire air. Mar a dúirt mé, tá sé gafa le caimiléireacht go huile is go hiomlán. Ba cheart dó an cheist seo a fhreagairt. Cé mhéad daoine ar an taobh sin den Teach a ghabh breabanna? Ba cheart dóí a fhreagairt. Níl sé sásta an freagra a thabhairt, mar táispeánann sé cé mhéad agus cé chomh gafa agus atá siad leo. Scrios siad an oidhreacht sa chathair seo, agus tá sé fós ag déanamh iarrachta an chuid atá fágtha againn a scriosadh ionas nach mbeidh sé againn nó ag na glúinte amach anseo.

The Deputy is like a broken record.

Nílim, ach tá seisean cosúil le broken record, mar leanann sé ar aghaidh ag scriosadh na hoidhreachta.

The Deputy should get on with it.

Tá 20 nóiméad agam, agus muna bhfuil an tAire sásta iad a ligint dom——

The Deputy does not want to hear the truth.

Ní thuigeann sé, fiú, cad atáá rá agam. Sin cé chomh tiubh is atá sé. Ní féidir leis éisteacht agus glacadh lena bhfuil le rá agamsa. Tiubh agus breabaireacht — caimiléireacht go huile is go hiomlán — atá i gceist ag an Aire, agus bhí i gcónaí. Fiú nuair nach raibh sé sa pháirtí sin, bhí sé gafa leis an rud ceanann céanna. Slíbhín den scoth é, ach ba chóir go mbeadh spéis aige sa Teach seo agus ligint dom a bhfuil le rá agam a rá. Cén fáth, nuair a fuair siad Woodstown thíos i bPort Láirge, nár dúradh faic ar feadh bliana iomláine?

This is the latest now. They are starting to dig up all over the country.

Deputy ÓSnodaigh should be allowed to make his contribution without interruption.

Bhí mise ar an mhairseáil i mBaile Átha Cliatha go Frascati House. Bhí mé ar an mhairseáil go Wood Quay. Sin cé chomh fada is atá mise gafa le ceist na seandálaíochta. Fós ní thuigeann sé mé. Is tiubh atá sé. Ní thuigeann sé cad táá rá agam. Níl sé sásta éisteacht, mar tá sé tiubh. Sin cé chomh tiubh is atá sé. Is mór an trua é nach n-imíonn sé agus nach n-éiríonn sé as an jab go huile is go hiomlán. Níl sé sásta éisteacht le daoine. Tá an pobal dáiríre faoin oidhreacht agus faoin tseandálaíocht.

They should put aside the rhetoric and put forward a few policies for which people might vote.

Tá an polasaí seo curtha chun cinn i bhfad Éireann níos fearr agus níos soiléire ná aon rud ina iarracht mé a mhaslú. Tá an tAire ag iarraidh mé maslú ach ní féidir leis an Teachta maslú mar tá sé tiubh agus ní féidir leis é a dhéanamh sa teanga náisiúnta. Tá sé ceangailte le caimiléireacht agus tá sé sásta, cosúil leis na daoine atá timpeall air, breabanna a ghlacadh. Sin an t-aon fáth a mbeadh an tAire sásta ionsaí a dhéanamh ar an oidhreacht. Níl na freagraí aige. Níl sé ach tiubh. Ba chóir dóéisteacht éigin a dhéanamh agus gan a bheith ag maslú daoine.

Tá ceist mhór le freagairt ag an Aire maidir le Carrickmines agus le háiteanna eile cosúil leis in Hill in Tara, Trim agus Wood Quay. Níor fhreagair an Rialtas na ceisteanna sin ariamh. Tógadh daoine os comhair na gcúirteanna agus rinne an Rialtas iarracht gach pingin a bhaint uathu. Sin chomh scanallach is atá siad. Níl an Rialtas sásta ár n-oidhreacht a chaomhnú. Níl siad sásta ach cumhachtaí breise a thabhairt don Aire chun é a loit amach anseo.

Is í an fhoclaíocht atá san mBille ná, "That the Minister can issue an order to demolish or remove, wholly or in part, or to disfigure, deface, alter, or in any manner injure or interfere with...".

That is in the legislation since the 1930s.

Bhí an deis ag an Aire é a thógaint amach asti.

The Deputy should read the legislation.

Tá mé ag rá go bhféadfadh an tAire é a athrú ach níl sé ag éisteacht liom. Tá sé ag tabhairt na cumhachta dó féin an rud a scriosadh, agus gan cead na Dála agus gan cead ón Ard-Mhusaem. Tá an tAire ag iarraidh an chumhacht ar fad a ghlacadh ionas gur féidir leis suíomhanna nua a thabhairt go rachmasaithe eile má tá siad sásta breab a thabhairt dá chairde. Sin cé chomh scanallach is atá an tAire agus a dhream. Níl siad sásta éisteacht leis an phobal agus níl siad sásta, fiú, féachaint ar an todhchaí. Muintir na hÉireann——

The Deputy should stop using muintir na hÉireann.

I gcionn 100 bliain beidh muintir na hÉireann á rá gur scrios an tAire oidhreacht na hÉireann agus gur dhein sé loitiméireacht timpeall na tíre ar fad. Sin an méid atá sé in ann a dhéanamh.

The Deputy would have worn brown shirts in the thirties. He should grab the banners and have a private army. That is what he wants. He wants a private army to back up everything he does. He will not get away with it. Sinn Féin will not get away with it.

Ní gá dúinn aon airm a bheith againn ins an cheist seo. Tá an cheist seo an simplí. An tAire an duine a scriosfaidh oidhreacht na hÉireann. Cad atá an Rialtas ag trialladh a dhéanamh amuigh i gCluain Dolcáin? Tá siad sásta cead a thabhairt do thógálaí——

He is in here shouting and roaring while his private army is outside the door to back up everything he says.

Order, please. The Deputy should be allowed make his speech without interruption.

Is é an tAire a thosaigh an screadaíl. Is trua nach n-aithníonn sé oidhreacht a pháirtí féin. Ba chóir dó smaoineamh ar oidhreacht Fhianna Fáil.

That is old cleverality. He should tell that to what is left of the Marxist Communist group in Europe that his party has joined. Their failed old policies never delivered a job, built a house or did anything for anybody. That is all Sinn Féin is interested in.

The Minister is being disorderly.

Ní dhearna an tAire mórán ach oiread ach airgead a thabhairt to rachmasaithe agus a bheith ag cruinniú airgid. Sin an méid a dhein an tAire agus sin an méid atá ag teacht ón Rialtas. Sin an fáth nach bhfuil an tAire sásta éisteacht leis an gceist. Tá sé ag iarraidh mise a mhaslú. Is cuma liom.

The Deputy is not at one of his back-room lectures being told what to do and when to do it.

Is féidir leis mise a mhaslú de shíor. Ní chuireann sin as dom.

We live in a democracy.

Cuireann sé as dom nach bhfuil an tAire sásta na ceisteanna atáá n-ardú agam a fhreagairt nó fiúéisteacht leo. Sin cé chomh maslach is atá an tAire. Is cuma liom. Tá an tAire ag maslú mhuintir na hÉireann. Cé gur Aire de mhuintir na hÉireann é nil sé sásta éisteacht leis na pointí a ardaítear ar an gceist seo. Sin cé chomh gránna is atá sé. Slibhín beag bídeach is ea é. Ní bheidh a ainm thíos amach anseo. Beidh sé gránna. Smaoineofar air mar loitiméir na tíre, loitiméir na staire agus loitiméir na hoidhreachta. Sin a bhfuil sé tar éis a dhéanamh.

That describes Sinn Féin and their carry-on.

I am talking about the Minister.

The Deputy should look in the mirror.

The Minister is being disorderly.

His party knee-caps people who do not agree with it. They terrorise people. They are the experts in building concrete bunkers.

The Minister is being disorderly.

If the Minister wants a debate on that subject or any subject he should order time through his Whip.

Members should address the Chair.

If the Minister wishes to have a debate on any other subject, he is in Government. He can order time for it and I will willingly debate any subject in this House. I am debating this matter and the Minister is insulting me and the Irish people.

Facts do not get in the way of the Deputy spinning his old yarns.

I have not spun any yarn yet.

Sinn Féin never does.

The Minister does not even have the intelligence to listen to what I have to say, in Irish or English.

The Deputy knows I do not have the same facility in Irish that he has.

There he is, shouting again. The Minister has just shown himself to be both simple minded and a bigot who has destroyed our heritage.

The Deputy should look in the mirror.

I look in the mirror every day and I am proud of what I see. What I see across the Chamber is a tiny little bigot who should be thrown out of the House for continually disrupting me.

I have plenty of reasons to get at a person, without getting down in the muck.

The Minister should be ashamed of himself that he will not even answer or listen to the debate on this important matter.

Will the Minister please stop interrupting?

The Minister is scandalous. He is connected with corruption on his side of the House, as regards people who have taken payments in respect of Jackson Way and other works.

The Deputy should make that statement outside the House, if he is man enough, or withdraw it.

The Chair is calling on the Minister to cease interrupting.

I have no problem repeating that outside the House. Who, in the Minister's party, have already been in front of the tribunal?

Back it up.

I have backed it up. The tribunal is doing its work. These people are connected with the Minister's party, not my party. That is the scandal. That has to do with corruption. Just look at what that is destroying. That is how small-minded the Minister is, and the rest of his party. To destroy the heritage and concrete it over is their solution to everything. The Minister is scandalous and should give up as quickly as possible. He is no Minister for the environment. The only environment he wants is concrete.

The Deputy should address the Chair.

I will address the Chair if I do not get any more interruptions. If the Minister continues to interrupt I will continue in the same vein. Just in case the Minister does not understand Irish in any shape or form, I referred to the scandal in Trim, where a multistorey hotel is being built next to a national monument. It is taking away from the national monument. The Minister is supposed to promote national monuments, not allow building on top of or next to them.

The Deputy should state the facts.

That is exactly what the Minister is doing.

It is not.

Order, please. The Minister will have the opportunity to reply.

A seven storey building is going up across the road from Kilmainham Jail. At the back of it is another ten storey building.

The Deputy will conclude.

I conclude by continuing with my claim that the Minister is connected with people in this House who are corrupt, who have forced through Carrickmines.

The Deputy will withdraw that remark or repeat it outside the House.

I have repeated it ten times and I will not withdraw it. If the Minister wishes, I will repeat it outside the House.

The Deputy should repeat that outside the House if he is man enough.

Deputies should be allowed to make their contributions without interruption.

That was great. I should have spent more time in Irish class. I could have enjoyed that much more.

The Minister may not realise it but this Bill depends on trust. It is not just the trust of the Minister, but of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the procedures etc. One person told me the Bill was equivalent to giving the Minister a JCB and telling him to point it where he likes. That is what is felt about it. It is the duty of the Minister to allay people's fears in this regard once and for all. Either this is proper legislation or it is not. To rush it though without proper consultation and without involving everybody will not help to allay those fears.

This is similar to what I have said on numerous occasions in this House. Bills which could be rushed through are not, and straggle on for ages. Important Bills, over which there may be doubts, are forced through. The last example was another Bill rushed through in a mad charge by the Minister on electronic voting. I told the Minister to take his time so that people's fears could be allayed. We did not do that and it came back to haunt us.

What is wrong with getting it right and bringing everybody with us, rather than alienating people? People have fears in this regard. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will be in charge of this Bill, whether the Minister, Deputy Cullen, is still here in three years' time or his successor is in place. If the Bill is passed, the Department will have the power to decide whether a monument should be flattened.

I wish to discuss the Department's record. It once proposed the construction of a nuclear power plant by the coast, on the Irish Sea, but fortunately it did not happen. Nobody passed such a law. That is the Department's record. We are here to discuss the Bill because the routes selected by the Department, or an authority for which it is responsible, led to problems. The Bill is needed because of bad planning, whether on the part of the Minister, his Department or local authorities. A site beside the castle in Trim intended to be developed as a car park will now be the location of a hotel. There is right and there is wrong but it all relates to the record of the Department. I do not refer to the Minister but the Department which will be responsible for the Bill.

People have fears because the Bill gives serious powers to anyone who wants to use them, for example to knock or move a monument. I accept that such powers may sometimes be needed. There may be doubts about whether something is a monument. The Bill does not clarify what a national monument is.

It is in the main Bill.

It is not.

It will be seen later this year.

There are doubts about that. We had problems in Carrickmines because nobody knew how to decide whether something was a national monument. There are problems with laws when there are doubts.

There is no doubt.

There is. There was a problem in Carrickmines because the council said it was not a national monument, whereas others said it was. There was a doubt because nobody could adjudicate on the matter.

Can the Deputy define it?

I cannot but I am not the Minister.

I ask the Deputy to define it.

Am I the Minister? No.

Define it.

Nobody can define it. The Minister is introducing a law that will provide for the power to remove a national monument, even though nobody can define what a national monument is.

I am not.

The Minister is bringing in a law that gives him the right to remove a national monument.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell must be the only Fine Gael Deputy who supports the Bill. She supported the entire Bill.

I have read her speech. She questioned——

She was very supportive.

The Minister is saying she was right. She questioned the lack of a definition of national monument.

I accept that. We will do it in the main Bill.

The Minister accepts it but when will he do something about it?

It is very difficult to define.

I agree that it is difficult but that is not the point.

That is all I am saying.

The Minister is bringing forward this Bill without defining a national monument. The phrase "putting the cart before the horse" comes to mind.

I wish to examine the Minister's record. When he introduced the Bill to provide for electronic voting, he rubbished the claims of so-called computer experts who had concerns about it. He said they were not accredited to anybody and did not have any expertise. Something similar is happening in this case. The Minister is introducing a Bill which will provide the power to remove, knock or disturb a national monument but he cannot define what a national monument is.

That has always been the case. It is in the 1930 legislation.

What is in the 1930 legislation?

What the Deputy just said is in the 1930 Act.

It is in it. The Minister is reaffirming it by bringing it back again.

It is not new.

It is because it was not accepted as law by the courts. The Minister has to re-establish it.

It was all——

What is in the legislation then?

The 1930 Act states it is not lawful "to demolish or remove wholly or in part or to disfigure, deface, alter, or in any manner injure or interfere with any such national monument".

What is stated in this Bill?

This Bill states——

It states the same thing. It is reaffirming it.

I am not changing the law.

Why is this Bill being brought forward then? It is not needed if the Minister is not changing the law.

I am proposing this Bill because section 14 of the 1930 Act was struck down by the High Court.

There was a doubt.

We now have a hiatus.

We are back to the same question. The Bill gives the Minister powers which he does not have because there are doubts in respect of the courts. He cannot pursue the Carrickmines case. The Bill which will give the Minister, or his Department, more powers does not define what a national monument is. The definition is fundamental to the entire matter.

It is a question of trust, as I have said. I mentioned that this Bill was being proposed to deal with bad planning. Why did the M50 end up at Carrickmines Castle? Surely many other routes could have been pursued.

There is no castle.

The Minister can call it what he likes.

No, but I mean——

If the Minister wants to debate at such a pathetic level——

I am not being political but I have to say it came as a surprise to me when I went there to find that there was no castle.

That is great. One could argue all day about whether something is a monument but the Minister cannot argue with me because he does not have a definition of a national monument. We ran into a roadblock in the case of the M50. The Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, can chat away — I will talk to myself if they want.

In the case of the M3 we ended up in the Tara and Skryne valley. One could have chosen many alternative routes. Six were proposed — one could have considered 20 others — but we have ended up in a questionable place. Why did we end up there? Could we not have gone somewhere else where there would have been no hassle and this legislation would not have been needed? Despite our many planners, whizz-kids and technology experts, we have ended up in a place with 30 or 40 potential archaeological sites.

We will find such sites everywhere.

We have identified 120,000 heritage sites.

We are lucky to have them.

No matter where we go, we will hit heritage sites.

Let us face facts — if one was trying to avoid an archaeological site, one would certainly not choose a spot in the middle of Tara and Skryne. Nobody would make such a decision.

The proposed road will be further from the Hill of Tara than the existing road.

Who is the Minister telling? I live there and know all about it but that is not my point. The Department is building a new motorway for which it will have to dig up the ground. The road to which the Minister referred is already in place.

It does not even come under my Department.

The Government is funding the road.

The NRA which comes under the Department of Transport is funding it.

Who will fund the NRA? The funding will come from the Government, including the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It will come from the Government.

Are you telling me——

I remind the Deputy to address the Chair.

I am sorry. The Chair is so quiet that I nearly forget about him.

I am not being argumentative.

The M3 motorway was discussed by the Joint Committee on the Environment and Local Government in recent months.

I accept that.

The NRA made a submission. It is part of the Department. There is point in saying it is not. One cannot put the emphasis on the Department of Transport. It started off with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and will finish with it. The M3 motorway started five years ago when I first came on the scene as a councillor.

It is vested in the NRA.

I know that.

That is all I am telling the Deputy. I am not arguing with him.

We will agree on that much. I wish to discuss why we need this Bill. The process of selecting a route for the M3 started five years ago but the construction of the motorway has not yet started. Digs have started but arguments about the route are continuing and may continue for another five years.

There will be arguments, regardless of the route one chooses.

The Minister is wrong. Routes have been chosen in other cases and it has been done. There was no problem when the so-called bypass was originally constructed in Navan — there was no argument about it and it was done. It turned out that the bypass went through the town. The Minister is leaving the Chamber but I will finish my contribution.

One has to ask why we ended up here. A bad tradesman will always have his tools to get him out of trouble but this Bill is getting us out of bad planning and bad decision-making. A carpenter might measure twice and cut once but that does not seem to apply to the Government which can correct its mistakes with new laws. Fundamental mistakes have been made and there is a doubt about procedures in respect of the M50, the M3 and other roads. I do not understand why we do not take steps to avoid such problems, thereby ensuring we do not need Bills of this kind.

It is a matter of trust, as I have said. People do not trust the record of the Department under the leadership of the Minister, or his predecessor. It is proposed to give the Department which sanctioned the spending of €50 million on machines that have the potential to be proven to be flawed or unusable the power to remove national monuments at its discretion. I find it strange that we are asking the people to accept such a law. If we are to shove through this Bill, it should include a provision that will allow the Minister to reconsider a national monument, for example, by establishing a panel of experts to assess it. Any group which fights the Government or the NRA on this issue or any issue relating to roads, trains, etc., will employ experts. The best way to get agreement is to bring experts from both sides together. If they have been trained in the same place and have the same background, they will be able to decide what is right or wrong and advise the Minister accordingly.

I question many of the things done by the NRA as it was choosing the route of the new motorway through County Meath. It would not give answers or listen to people. It was shy in coming back with information. It adopted a kind of bully-boy attitude. Any mistakes made by it can be covered up because the Minister can get it out of trouble by removing a monument, or getting An Bord Pleanála to make site changes on the roads without going back again. It is wrong. It does not make sense.

The Bill gives the Minister the right to remove monuments but it is mainly concerned with driving through the M50 project. It is not democratic that the need to proceed with the M50 will override anybody else's view. There is no doubt that we want things to be built quicker. We all want the M50, the M3 and every other road built quicker but we have to put a price on our heritage. We cannot just bulldoze through our heritage sites any time we want. We cannot remove them willy-nilly. It took thousands of years for our heritage to develop and we cannot simply destroy it with the stroke of a pen because it is in the way. That is not the way to proceed. I could say more but I have made my point, although it is a pity the Minister had to leave the Chamber.

I question the need for this Bill. If we did our job right, we would not need it. It is wrong to give anybody the power to move or bury a monument. The way we are going about this whole process is wrong. We need to involve others and listen to them. There are those who object to roads for the sake of objecting. We can all see through this but people have a right to object to the building of a road if it affects them personally or because they have a strong belief in protecting our heritage and culture. We do not have the right to override this. That is not what the law is about. Governments should govern, be fair and make the right decisions.

The Bill will give more powers to An Bord Pleanála in that if something has to be changed slightly, the whole process will not have to be gone through again. I do not have a major problem with this. An Bord Pleanála is independent and it will not be a case of one person making the decision. In quite a number of cases, however, An Bord Pleanála did not accept its own inspectors' recommendations. This happened most recently in Dunboyne, prior to which there was another case in County Meath. Its own inspectors made a recommendation — I understand it had to do with an incinerator — not to grant permission but the board overruled them. I wonder why the board would send its own investigators and then overrule their recommendations. That is strange but it all comes down to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government which is all over the people concerned. It also has a say in what the National Roads Authority does because it provides funding for it. It is wrong to say the NRA is in charge. Those in charge are the Ministers for Transport and the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. They make the decisions and it is to them the NRA should answer.

I said previously in regard to the M3, about which I know more than the M50, on which Deputy Olivia Mitchell can speak, that there is a doubt about the reason that route was chosen. The Government has a duty to put that doubt to bed if there is to be agreement on all sides. If we go back over the procedures, if everything is done properly and fairly, and if we listen to the experts on all sides, there will be agreement on a route. It may be proved that there is an alternative and that alternative could be a railway line.

To return to the M3, when we talk to the experts employed by the Government, through the NRA, the councils or whatever, they say a railway line cannot be built beside a motorway. They said it could not be done in this case. Most people in any county would accept that some farmland might have to be destroyed to build a railway line but the building of a motorway will always be questioned. Other countries have not always succeeded in reducing traffic delays but trains do this. In the case in County Meath, however, people were told they could not have a railway line, that they were getting a motorway. The suggestion then was to acquire enough land through CPOs to run a railway line beside the motorway but, again, that is not possible. There is a lack of common sense in picking routes, what we do afterwards and even in our daily business in not running a railway line beside a motorway. This is done in every other country. Why can it not be done here?

Speaking of other countries, no example has been given of what happens in other countries when national monuments are in the way of development. If this Bill is so right, why can someone not give an example of what happens in France or Spain? I am sure other countries come up against these problems. What do they do? Do they go around them, remove them or bury them? What is the procedure? What laws do they have to deal with this issue? We have not been given examples to back up the Bill. There are too many unanswered questions and too many doubts raised. We had doubts about the previous Bill the Minister brought before the House and we all know where it ended up — it cost a lot of money.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Burton.

I share the views expressed on this side of the House about this legislation. There is no doubt that the Bill goes far beyond what is necessary in terms of the Supreme Court decision to deal with the technical glitch that made the orders invalid and that it moves into a whole new realm of transferring power to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. That is the nub of the issue. We should remember it is not just the Minister for the Environment about whom we are talking but the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Minister has a particular responsibility to protect our heritage but it appears that the direct thrust of section 5 — the core of the Bill — is to allow the Minister to demolish, destroy or export archaeological heritage, our built heritage, if he or she deems fit. The only caveat is that he or she has to wait 14 days for a reply from the director of the National Museum of Ireland. How can the character of a particular archaeological find be assessed in 14 days? It simply cannot be done. In the Carrickmines controversy initially nobody had any idea of the extent of the find. It was only after a considerable period that it came to light. To expect something of that nature to be identified and dealt with adequately in that space of time is unreal. It is so unreal it makes that particular caveat meaningless because the Minister will have absolute discretion to do what he or she likes. That is the thrust of this legislation. That is the reason everybody is concerned about it.

Now more than ever modern technology — geophysics, aerial photography, etc. — has revealed a far greater quantity of archaeological sites than was previously expected or known. They have multiplied by a huge factor in recent years and many of them have not been properly mapped out. The Minister indicated that he was working his way through the various counties in the mapping process but that we were a long way from having it completed with the modern technology currently available. Some independent assessment must be made. A flexible timescale is needed to ensure we do not destroy valuable treasures. This is not presented in the Bill which leaves open to legalised vandalism our various sites in that if a road or a particular building is required on economic grounds, it will always take precedence over the heritage that may be in its path.

We need to reflect and seek expert opinion on the broader powers being granted to the Minister in the Bill. Our heritage, whether archaeological or architectural, including contents, fittings and furniture of buildings in place for centuries, needs a broader canvas than the one with which we have been dealing. It is difficult to see a situation where adequate protection is given to it.

Recently the contents of Lissadell House were sold without reference to its future. The impact of the distribution of the contents far and wide to the highest bidder on the heritage of the house and its lands was not taken into consideration. Likewise, the house was disposed of, despite the cry for State involvement to ensure protection of its heritage. There is still no guarantee that it will be protected. Today the contents of University Hall on Hatch Street, run as student accommodation by the Jesuit order since the foundation of University College Dublin, are being sold to the highest bidder. In the autumn the hall will be sold.

A number of churches, church halls, schools and properties have been disposed of in anad hoc fashion. In the Dublin Central constituency Arran Quay Church is boarded up and falling into rack and ruin. Temple Street Church is used for late night raves unsuited to its fabric and already the spire is in a dangerous condition. The Black Church is one of the few churches which have been put to a business use while the Sandymount Church was demolished. The school, church and lands at Belcamp and Claude Hall in Drumcondra have been sold. Everywhere our built heritage, including fittings and contents, is being sold off without any protective mechanisms being put in place. No warning is given for these sales and often the owners sell to the highest bidder.

Legislation that gives absolute discretion to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to dispose of, demolish or destroy our heritage if it is inconvenient to a particular development is not needed. An overall structure with broad parameters to protect our heritage should be put in place. For example, University Hall, with a capacity for 100 people, could be developed as a wonderful asset for international students, particularly in this the centenary year of Bloomsday. It could be developed in the context of our international literary renown rather than being sold off as an apartment block. The contents have already been disposed of. A moratorium is needed to ensure this part of our heritage is not put on the market. Instead such buildings should be referred to the Office of Public Works, local authorities and a heritage conservation body to give breathing space to permit appropriate use. Without such a structure, much of our built heritage is coming on the market and being inappropriately used or destroyed.

This Bill was originally intended to deal with the Carrickmines case and the technical issue that arose from the Supreme Court decision. However, it will now open the floodgates to the destruction of far more of our archaeological and built heritage than would be possible under the original Act. The National Monuments Act is not adequate to meet our needs or cope with the number of previously unknown heritage sites. However, this Bill is damaging in its potential, unnecessary in what it sets out to do and does not deal with the positive requirements to protect our national heritage.

I thank Deputy Costello for agreeing to share his time with me.

This long-awaited Bill intends to bring a resolution to the Carrickmines case and its long planning history associated with the old Dublin County Council. The debacle of the Carrickmines case, with a large amount of money misspent, would never have occurred if there had been more work and transparency on the project ten years ago. Many wish to see a resolution. I accept that many confronted with traffic gridlock feel desperate situations require desperate remedies. Every Member realises that this Bill seeks to address an extremely difficult case. However, it also sets out wider powers and authority for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding our archaeological and built heritage. Given that Fianna Fáil is above all else the builders' party, the manner in which this Bill is being rushed through the House, without adequate measured public debate from those for or against, gives rise to the deepest suspicion as to its real motivations.

The Dublin West constituency, like much of north County Dublin, is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Its small number of greenbelt areas and protected buildings are the envy of builders and developers who wish to build on them. It is lucky that the Phoenix Park is protected, because if not, it would be the site of Fianna Fáil developers' nine to 11 storey buildings. Every Member is glad that Dublin city's population is growing. Part of the solution in providing accommodation lies in a high density approach which must be related to the availability of public transport.

Why has the Dublin West constituency lost much of its built heritage through accidental fires and the like? There are sites where up to 2,000 homes are built alongside a listed 19th century house, around which hoardings go up, indicating it is either to be a nursing home or a restaurant. Then, over a bank holiday weekend, it is either accidentally demolished, destroyed by vandals or accidentally catches fire.

In north County Dublin, a huge amount of our built heritage has disappeared. What about trees, some of them 200 years old? In the area action plan, preservation of trees is a priority but when surveys are then done by tree surgeons, half of the trees are listed as being diseased. If the same principle were applied to humans, half the human race could be demolished on the basis of lacking perfection and perhaps having some incipient conditions.

We are bleeding our environment and losing our historic properties and houses. In former days they belonged in many cases to the Anglo-Irish community, to big farmers, but they were built by ordinary Irish craftsmen. They were built by our grandfathers and looked after by our grandmothers. We have no respect for preserving that fantastic built heritage which younger people today are finally coming to appreciate. It was understandable that in the aftermath of independence such buildings would be seen as somehow symbolic of something that might be done away with, but that is no longer the case.

We now have the amazing concept of two motorways within 20 miles of each other in the Meath area. In the original plans they were far apart, but they are now planned to come close to each other. We have a disused railway line running from Dunboyne to Navan, yet the Government prioritises a motorway which may cause incredible destruction to possibly the richest archaeological area in Ireland.

I represent Dublin West and many people from there now live in the Meath area. Everyone knows the incredible levels of traffic in the eastern part of Meath and west Dublin. It crosses part of Deputy Costello's constituency because there are only a few points through which that traffic can get to the Dublin city centre. What has happened? We are proposing more motorways to end up accessing three narrow funnels into the north side of Dublin city which, with the advent of Luas, may well provide substantially reduced access. We are not putting the money into public transport, into the re-opening of railways, the electrification of the railway line or bus routes, which would offer a short-term resolution. We have an open season for builders and developers who are allowed do what they want without any countervailing balance of development of public transport or in terms of the preservation of the historic environment, including outstanding trees. This is totally wrong.

Another example relates to my own constituency. Farmleigh was initially purchased by the State as the Taoiseach's weekend residence and then became a State guest-house. When it was purchased, the OPW had to give an undertaking that the land across the road, owned by the trust representing the Guinness family interests, would not be the subject of any intervention by any State body with regard to planning applications on that land. As a consequence, Dúchas, the heritage services and various other bodies who would properly have an interest in developments on the edge of the Phoenix Park had no power to put forward sensible interventions regarding trees and historic properties on the site. However much money Ireland makes from pharmaceuticals or from IT, for example, tourism will remain a critically important product in terms of its employment and earnings.

In the Dublin and east coast regions we are allowing an important heritage to be destroyed piecemeal, which in the end will cost this country economically. This Bill has raised many fears among those interested that once again, it is open season for Fianna Fáil, the builder's friend.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Cuffe.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. Like many other Deputies, I am disappointed that the Bill is to be guillotined tonight and that there will be a vote on it. There should have been much more debate. I know that four hours were given to it, but it is an important Bill. When one deals with monuments and planning issues there is bound to be contention, with many views expressed, particularly the view that we should protect our heritage and culture.

A common sense approach is needed in this matter. The Bill gives the Minister permission to issue directions in respect of national monuments notwithstanding the fact that such consent or directions may involve injury or interference to the whole or part of a monument. The Bill also makes provision for appropriate protection of our archaeological heritage along the routes of approved road developments, including the south eastern route of the M50 which most Deputies have been speaking about since the Bill was introduced.

This is the seventh piece of emergency legislation to be brought before the Oireachtas this year. It is obviously rushed legislation to deal with the Carrickmines issue. We have much rushed legislation before us in the next few weeks. There is also the Airport Authority Bill published this afternoon. That important Bill, which provides for the break-up of the three main airports, will be rushed and will be guillotined on July 8. It is a different issue for another day.

Road building projects throughout the country are very important. We live in a changing society where many of us regularly make representations either to the NRA or to the Minister for Transport to rush through road building projects. In my own constituency the Ennis by-pass was supposed to start in 2002, but started in April of this year, two years overdue. It involved many problems, particularly regarding archaeological finds and surveys. Before the motorway started, €9 million was put aside for the archaeological work. Some 50 recorded monuments were found on parts of the route. Most were marked and photographed, but they did not hold up the project, which went ahead. Some of the items found dated back to the Bronze Age. Timber vessels and washing utensils were found. It is important, however, to remember that the Carrickmines archaeological project cost nearly €50 million of taxpayers' money. The road building was delayed because of the finds along the route. In Deputy Cullen's constituency, where the Waterford by-pass is being built, there has been a major Viking find which may turn out to be the most important in Europe. Its full extent is not yet clear.

I visited the Vasa Museum in Stockholm a few years ago. An old ship was found in the port area of the city. It was covered in silt but was perfectly preserved.

A longboat.

Debate adjourned.