road protests 1999
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From: "Felix Ford" (email@example.com)
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 17:32:07 GMT
Glen of the Downs (Ireland) - December updates
HERE IS LOADS OF INFORMATION ON THE WHOLE SITUATION IN THE GLEN OF THE DOWNS, STARTING WITH THE FELLING THAT TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, 7TH DECEMBER, 1999. AS YOU WILL SEE FROM THE INFO AMASSED BELOW, WE HAVE THE WEEKEND TO RECOVER FROM THE WEEK. ON 2 OCCASIONS THIS LAST WEEK, MEN WITH CHAINSAWS ENTERED THE FOREST, (ALTHOUGH ON FRI 10TH, ONLY 2 TREES WERE TAKEN, DUE TO PROTESTERS OCCUPYING THE SPACE WHERE WORK WAS SUPPOSED TO COMMENCE). WE DO NEED MORE BODIES THOUGH. THE WEEKEND IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR LADS AND LASSES TO COME TO THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE. AFTERALL, IT MAY BE YOUR LAST CHANCE TO SEE IT....THE COURT ORDER PROTECTING THE GLEN OF THE DOWNS, RUNS OUT ON MONDAY AT 11'0' CLOCK...BE THERE!!!!!!!
EMAIL SENT BY ROBERT, ON DEC 7TH, 1999
This morning at ten oclock Wicklow County Counciil sent in the chainsaws to begin cutting 2,000 trees in the Glen of the Downs. This will be the last message from Blue for a while. See other media for updates, but if you can make it over to Wicklow bring your experience, enthusiasm and plenty of warm clothes. It is very cold and damp.
EMAIL SENT BY FELIX, ON DECEMBER 10TH, 1999
Today at around 10-11am, a van with about 5 policemen in a van appeared near the entrance to the car park into the glen of the downs nature reserve. When a couple of the activists went to find out what was happening, they were told that the police were just here to remove the white crosses which had been hung from some of the trees, on the west side. The crosses had been hung there to draw attention to the imminent murdering of the trees. The official reason for removing these was that they were a hazardous distraction for drivers on the "dangerous" stretch of road. This seemed strange, as traffic moves quite slowly at that hour of the morning. Feelings were not too tense, as activists joked that maybe we should put a wonder bra advert up, as in the city, where corporate distractions are not seen as dangerous.
However, when 3 more vans of police drove up, and 2 JCBs appeared, we began to feel quite concerned. We sounded the alarm, by banging a large sheet of metal, and very quickly, trees were occupied. Police and workers taped off an area, which they then attempted to fell, threatening to arrest anyone who came to where they were grouped. Most of the gardai were along the roads, directing the traffic, or huddled in a group around the base of a tree, south-east of the entrance to the carpark. There were people attached to lock-ons along the stretch designated for felling, and in the trees. There were several officials taking photographs and filming the event. The people in tunnels were taken hot flasks and informed of the situation. Then Council workers came over to the west side where the tunnels are situated, and began cutting the wires that were being used to show where it is unsafe to walk.
Obviously it is important that everyone knows where the tunnels are for safety reasons. The wire-cutters were calmly told why they should not be cutting this wire, which is essential for the safety of tunnelers. The reply from the wire-cutters was: "Well, I'm properly insured".
The Source office and the VOICE office in Dublin, were contacted, and a request for more bodies again repeated.
After putting some of the crosses into their van the council workers drove away, and the Gardai began to leave. The activists made victorious noises, and there was much merriment. However, some trees to the north-east of the carpark were bulldozed while the attention was focused elsewhere - simply through not enough people being present to defend the woodland all at once.
The Gardai and other workers (I'm not sure if they are contract workers or Wicklow County Council workers) were only here in total for about 2 hours.
About half an hour after the vehicles had gone, a helicopter began to circle above the camp-it remained there for another half an hour or so. I am told it was a Gardai helicopter. In the light of everyone in the camp being officially presented a document* on Wednesday 08 December, with a map showing the exact areas designated for felling, the general consensus was that this morning was a deliberate strategy to get protesters into areas where they would be officially trespassing on Wicklow County Council land, in order to press charges. Alternative explanations are that this is an attempt to tire protesters out with tension and waiting, to weaken us for the full-scale clearance of the land. We cannot know if the helicopter was scanning the area for an idea of the number of people, tree house and walkway-structures, etc. or simply an intimidatory tactic. What we do know is that the feeling on the ground at times of tree-felling is tense, and that Gardai seem tentative and nervous. Gardai were helpful, and reasonable, helping protesters across the road, and avoiding eye-contact with the protesters whenever possible.
John Gormley also made an appearance in the Glen of the Downs later in the afternoon, and said that the Green Party fully support the non-violent direct-action campaign in the Glen. It was ironic for us in the Glen of the Downs to hear the National Road Authority's statement today that "there will never be another traffic jam in Ireland. Congestion can become an unpleasant memory for the people of Ireland." As part of the National Development Plan, the National Roads Authority received £4.8 billion, while the public train system received nothing. We wonder how many more beautiful places will come under threat as a result of this development, and how many more sites must be protected by the people of Ireland, before conservation of our environment and improvement of the public transport system become more effectively prioritised within the democratic process
*A copy of the Wicklow County Council's court order against the activists was served to us on Wednesday 08 December, by the Gardai. We were presented with this document with a copy of the map and highlighted cutting-zones, so that we would be totally aware of when we were breaking the law, and when not.
EMAIL SENT BY GOTH, DEC 10TH, 1999
Hi lads! This is an e-mail from goth to youse. WE IN THE GLEN NEED: Torches, candles, blankets, socks, polyprop, rolls of wire, warm clothes, waterproofs, climbing gear, clips etc. figure-of-eights, climbing rope, flasks, AND PEOPLE! You don't have to climb trees-groundworkers are essential for cooking, keeping those in trees supplied with hot-flasks, keeping up the morale etc.
REPORT OF LEGAL SITUATION IN THE GLEN, SENT BY ÉANNA, DEC 10TH, 1999
The Glen of the Downs legal team have successfully obtained an interim injunction preventing further tree felling in the woodland until 11:00 a.m.
Monday morning. The Court will then hear argument relating to the Glen's inclusion in Dúchas' list of proposed Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).
The SAC is a designation under the EU's habitats directive which offers protection to important sites and eco-systems. The Glen of the Downs woodland qualifies as a sessile oak woodland complying with Annex II of the Directive. If the High Court accepts the Glen's legal team's argument that publication on the SAC list requires an Environmental Impact assessment to be carried out prior to any work being done on the road, the felling may have to cease until an EIA is conducted.
If the argument is rejected then the chainsaws will return next week. Either way, the High Court hearing will highlight the importance of the Glen as a rare eco-system intrinsically valued by European law.
The Glen was not published as a proposed SAC until August 1999, fully four years after the EU's deadline for publishing the list of sites had passed. This delay was avoidable and may result in further destruction of the Glen. The EU took the issue so seriously that the Commission threatened to withhold billions of Euros of structural funds from Ireland. Ironically structural funds will be used to fund the Glen motorway development.
Below is reprinted the RTE webcast announcing the news from the court.
An injunction has been granted to an environmentalist preventing Wicklow county council from carrying out any major works on the controversial Glen of the Downs road project over the weekend. Dermot Murphy was granted the interim order in the High Court this evening after losing an appeal in the Supreme Court earlier today.
Counsel for Mr.Murphy, Michael O’Donnell told Mr Justice Kelly tonight that the Council began felling trees on December 7 last. His client feared this
would continue over the weekend and could be completed by Monday. Mr O’Donnell argued that on August 14th, while a separate legal action was underway in the Supreme Court, the Glen had been designated a special area of
conservation. Under the regulations, the local authority had to carry out an assessment on the site but this had not been done.
Mr Justice Kelly granted Mr Murphy an interim order restraining the removal of trees, shrubs and other vegetation from the Glen. The injunction runs out at 11 o clock on Monday morning when its expected the legal battle will resume.
Earlier today, Wicklow County Council has been forced for a second time to call off a tree-felling operation at the site of a road-widening scheme in the Glen of the Downs. Gardai and council workers with cutting equipment moved onto the site this morning but they were forced to suspend the operation because protesters stood in the way of tractors and climbed trees.
This is the Irish Times webcast of the interim injunctin story.
Saturday, December 11, 1999
Injunction halts tree felling for weekend
An interim order preventing Wicklow County Council from removing trees, shrubs or other vegetation from the Glen of the Downs was granted by the High Court yesterday evening.
The injunction, which applies until Monday, was granted to Mr Dermot Murphy, a computer programmer, formerly of Dublin and now with an address at Neale Road, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo. It means tree-felling which was begun by the council earlier this week as part of preparatory work for a dual carriageway through the glen cannot proceed before Monday.
It is expected the council will seek to have the order lifted on Monday while Mr Murphy will apply to have it continued. Hours earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Mr Murphy against the High Court's refusal last Thursday to grant him leave to take fresh judicial review proceedings challenging the road scheme.
The High Court also refused to grant an injunction against Wicklow County Council and the Minister for the Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.
Although the Supreme Court refused Mr Murphy's appeal yesterday afternoon, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Hamilton, said that did not prevent Mr Murphy taking plenary proceedings. Later yesterday evening, Mr Michael O'Donnell, for Mr Murphy, applied to Mr Justice Kelly in the High Court for an interim order in plenary proceedings.
Mr O'Donnell said that on August 14th last, while judicial review proceedings by Mr Murphy were before the Supreme Court, the Government had made an order designating the glen as a special area of conservation under the EU Habitats Directive.
Under regulations implementing that directive, a local authority was required to carry out an assessment of the site and no such assessment had been carried out. Mr O'Donnell said the council had begun felling trees on December 7th and he feared this would continue over the weekend and could be completed by Monday. That was why the application was urgent.
Mr Justice Kelly said Mr Murphy had shown there was a serious issue to be tried which, on the present state of the evidence, called for an investigation. He granted an interim order and adjourned the matter to 11 a.m. on Monday or until a further court order.
road protests 1999
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