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Man faces jail for demolishing ancient ring fort - NO REALLY!
#1
A CAUSEWAY man is facing a possible five-year jail term after he was prosecuted for demolishing an ancient ring fort on land belonging to his family.
In the first case of its kind to be heard in an Irish Court, John O'mahony with an address at Clashmealcon, Causeway appeared at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court last where he pleaded guilty to carrying out unauthorised work near a monument on his family's farmland in Causeway in 2008.
The court heard that the family of Mr O'mahony, a 64-year-old farmer, owned lands which contained a ring fort and a series of underground tunnels, or souterrains, which dated back to between 500 and 100AD.
The ring fort and souterrain system were deemed to be national monuments of historic importance and had been placed on a national register.
While landowners are allowed carry out works on or near national monuments that are on the register they must contact the Department Environment and receive express written permission from the minister before they proceed.
Judge Carroll Moran was told that in February 2008, without seeking permission from the department, John O'mahony hired workers who demolished the majority of the ring fort and used the materials to fill in a nearby pond which Mr O'mahony believed posed a safety risk to children and livestock.
In the course of the work, the majority of the fort was destroyed while two thirds of the souterrian was demolished.

Read more:
http://www.kerryman.ie/news/man-faces-ja...49787.html
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#2
It sounds as if he's received the legal version of the bad luck traditionally visited upon those digging in ringforts.
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.
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#3
I don't want to appear to be taking pleasure in the misfortune of others, but I don't think a jail sentence would be a bad thing. Indeed, if it happened a bit more frequently, perhaps people would be a little more wary about bulldozing archaeological sites - it'd surely be a more effective deterrent that the current 'slap on the wrist' that seems to be in vogue in this country.

For me, the telling point is that
Quote:John O'mahony initially claimed he was unaware that the site had any great historical significance. However it emerged that Mr O'mahony had previously objected to a planning application seeking permssion to construct four houses on the same site on the grounds that it contained a "historical ring fort".


This suggests that he was well aware that it was an important monument before he undertook the work, and even if he didn't know the precise procedure (need to contact the Minister for permission), he should have taken the time to find out, rather than just battering on.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#4
It would be an interesting development if this did end in a jail term. Damage to historic monuments, including registered National Monuments sites is not infrequent in Ireland. Traditionally the response has been to insist on re-instatement with archaeological works and supervision, at the cost of the person who did the damage. This can lead to some bizzare situations, such as the Grammer School in Drogheda which 'fell down' mysteriously one night. Eventually a cheap replica was built as part of a large shopping mall. In another case whilst all the fuss was being made about the motorway being dug near the hill of Tara, a local farmer demolished part of Rathmaeve, a massive henge on the western summit of the hill itself. This was subsequently surveyed and then the damaged banks replaced. If this example were to lead to jail time it would be a massive change in how the law is enacted, but I doubt this will happen. The DoE tread softly in rural communities, understandably enough.
Interestingly the maximum fine that can be awarded for damage is quite low so it is actually surprising that more sites don't mysteriously 'fall down' or 'disappear' in the middle of the night. A canny developer may figure out it is far cheaper to take the fine than pay for archaeological works. This would subsequently hamper attempts to get further planning permissions by that developer so I have always figured out that is the safeguard, but if you are a small landowner doing a one off development, why not?
The other classic over in Ireland is when you are sent to do an assessment on a small development, say a few holiday homes or something, and you turn up to find they have already been completed! I have never heard of any sanctions being taken in those cases, but perhaps it does happen. I've lost count of how many times that I've made that phone call though, "Yeah hi, it's Stuart Rathbone here, yeah fine thanks. Um that thing I went to look at...yeah he's already built them...."
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#5
what a complete buffoon.
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#6
Stuart Rathbone Wrote:If this example were to lead to jail time it would be a massive change in how the law is enacted, but I doubt this will happen.

Don't get me wrong, I too think it's unlikely that this case will end in jail time, and I'd be amazed if Mr Mr O'mahony was sentenced to the maximum term allowed by the law. The point I was making is that perhaps these laws would be taken more seriously if judges in both Britain and Ireland were more willing to apply the full weight of the law, and hand down a few stiff sentences. As you say, a canny developer may decide that it is cheaper to take a fine rather than pay for archaeological work, but would they be so keen to make that decision if the alternative was a few months in jail?

Stuart Rathbone Wrote:The other classic over in Ireland is when you are sent to do an assessment on a small development, say a few holiday homes or something, and you turn up to find they have already been completed! I have never heard of any sanctions being taken in those cases, but perhaps it does happen. I've lost count of how many times that I've made that phone call though, "Yeah hi, it's Stuart Rathbone here, yeah fine thanks. Um that thing I went to look at...yeah he's already built them...."

That doesn't just happen in Ireland, I've certainly turned up on site to find that the developer has already stripped the house footprints and dug the foundations etc, because they were 'just trying to be helpful'. I've also heard that in some of the more remote areas of Scotland, often the first thing the planning department knows about a new house is the retrospective application following construction, and that's only submitted because the builder wants to sell it on!
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#7
Here's another example of the Irish legislative body going softly softly.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/l...66469.html

It was quite a well publicised story, a BA gold hoard kept in a safe by some pharmacists in Roscommon that was stolen, recovered and then put on display in the National Museum. The thing about the story that is never mentioned is that the family had been breaking the law. All artefacts discovered since 1926 are automatically the property of the Irish State. That stuff should have been handed in as soon as it was found, and should never have been in that safe to be stolen. The family are presented as 'generously' handing over the material to the National Museum when technically they should have been charged, or certainly told off!
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#8
Are there any figures out there on prosecutions (successful or otherwise) taken out by EH for damage to Scheduled sites in England? Ones that I've been involved in have usually consisted of EH coming up with expensive 'mitigation' as a 'don't do it again' financial penalty, rather than them taking legal action - I believe years back their solution to some geographically confused contractors sticking a fence across a scheduled site was to force them to employ an archaeological contractor to monitor them pulling the posts back out!
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#9
This story is interesting as it seems the Irish courts were prepared to jail this chap for the opposite action.
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.
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#10
Is there a box for Henge Monument in teh planning application document?

( Yes I know that the StoneHenge stones are not actually a Henge! grief.. comedic effect lost now! Wink )
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