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Tolls on the M3 - Bailouts for the Toll Firms

category national | miscellaneous | feature author Tuesday August 18, 2009 21:25author by Muireann Ni Bhrolchain - SaveTara.com Report this post to the editors

The Irish Government will pay compensation if traffic levels do not reach minimum

featured image
We Don't Need to be Tolled Twice

The Irish Government will pay compensation for tolls of the M3 if the traffic falls below the established minimum.
A report from Ferrovial dated 2008, on their website, states:

“The concession agreement establishes guaranteed minimum traffic levels and the Irish government has to pay the Concession Company compensation if traffic falls below the established minimums”.

This is how this story came to light. The Government have made a sweetheart deal with the tolling company of the M3 that if the minimum traffic levels are not reached then the rest of us will have to foot the bill and the shortfall.

But this deal seems to be unique to the M3; the same report states the opposite in regard to the M4/M6: “Revenue sharing with the Government if certain traffic thresholds are exceeded”.

The story was brought to media attention by a letter to the papers by campaigners in the middle of July. Although most of them didn’t publish the letter, the Irish Independent followed with a story entitled “Taxpayer will have to foot bill for M3 toll shortfall” on Monday 10th August 09 and the Meath Chronicle followed with a story called “Furure (sic) over motorway 'tolls bailout' for Eurolink” on Wednesday, 12th August 09. Newstalk covered the story and did an interview with the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey. This is an extract from what occurred (courtesy of Boards.ie):

Eamon Keane asked Minister Dempsey why nobody seemed to know the minimum target in revenue for fees on the new M3 toll bridge. The operators have been assured if a minimum target isn't met, taxpayers will compensate them: "Yeah, that will be all clearly laid out in that confidential contract I presume, between the NRA and the operator."

Eamon Keane asked Minister Dempsey if the public ever will, or should know the minimum target: "I'm not sure, but I think if it's commercially sensitive I don't think so. What we will know is if the target is not reached, which the NRA assured me is absolutely and totally unlikely, that if it isn't reached, then it will become public then because it will become quite clear that the NRA has had to pay money over and that will be available in their accounts. But, eh, I'm assured by the NRA that the reason why they put this clause in was to try and ensure maximum participation by competitor in trying to get the best possible price and the sharpest timescale in providing the M3, and they believe that the figure will be easily exceeded and that they have taken into account fully the fact that we will have a Navan Rail line by 2015 as well."

On foot of this, Tara campaigners have now called for the resignation of the Minister in a press release sent out on Monday 17th August 09. It reads as follows:

Save Tara campaigners are calling for the resignation of the Minister for Transport, Mr. Noel Dempsey, over the issue of the tolling of the M3 motorway. Campaigners have being drawing attention to the fact that the road was to be tolled twice for years now but the message has fallen on deaf ears until recently when a letter (Meath Chronicle, 18th. July) from the campaign again drew attention to the fact that Ferrovial made a sweetheart deal with the Government under which the Toll company would be compensated by the Taxpayer if traffic levels did not reach the specific/expected targets. (Campaigners have also drawn attention to the fact that the tolling period is 45 years and not 30 as reported widely in the press.)

The traffic figures on the existing N3 are dropping yearly since its peak in May 06 when it reached 19,042, the latest figures available are for March 09 and they have fallen by nearly 3,000 to 16,279. These figures will continue to fall as Meath now records the highest job losses in the country. Unemployment has risen by 116% in a year and the total unemployed in the county now stands at 11,498.

In the coming years there will be less people moving to Meath for housing as the prices in Dublin continue to fall – the rise in the population of Meath was mainly due to Dubliners who could not afford to live in their own county due to high house prices. Given a choice, commuters will chose to live in neighbouring Kildare where there are no tolls and there is a decent alternative public transport system from the commuter towns of Maynooth and Leixlip in particular.

As far as an alternative public transport system for county Meath is concerned, this deal with Ferrovial means that the Government now has a conflict of interest vis a vis the rail option and the M3 motorway. Any proposal for any public transport alternative for Meath commuters will be handicapped by the necessity for the Government to consider the damage such proposals might inflict on traffic volumes on the M3. As an example - the site of the Pace railway station (after the Toll Plaza on the M3) demonstrates this point graphically - you can have the rail alternative but not until you first pay the toll on the M3.

Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin said: ‘The indignation expressed by the Meath TDs is laughable. They knew perfectly well that this road was to be tolled twice from the very beginning – nearly 10 years ago. Noel Dempsey must resign, not just for presiding over this present debacle but also for his continued involvement in this crazy project that has destroyed, for financial gain, the most precious of Ireland’s landscapes.’

The Meath Chronicle reported on October 2000 that there would be two tolls on the then, proposed M3. TDs commented in the meantime. This “sweetheart” deal with the tolling company is just another symptom of how the present Government is prepared to sell the people out as they intend to do with NAMA.

The original letter that sparked off this controversy read as follows:

Dear editor,

Are the Irish public aware of the fact that if the projected traffic numbers do not reach the expected targets on the benighted M3 that the Government (that’s us the taxpayer by the way) must pay the shortfall?

Ferrovial’s website states clearly:
“The concession agreement establishes guaranteed minimum traffic levels and the Irish government has to pay the Concession Company compensation if traffic falls below the established minimums”.

That is specifically in regard to the double-tolled M3. On the other hand, the same web page says of the M4/M6:

“Revenue sharing with the Government if certain traffic thresholds are exceeded”.

It appears that Ferrovial are expecting the traffic levels on the M3 to fall below the expected targets and that the M4/M6 will reach and surpass those targets.

The rest of the Irish population should know that we will be paying for the shortfall in tolls if the people of Meath chose not to pay to go to work, if they have work to go to in these straightened times. That means that we will have paid for the M3 twice.

For those of us opposed to this project that destroyed Tara’s landscape, this is an appalling vista.

We have been lectured to by the Government, IBEC, Meath County Council and many other bodies of how important this road was and now the traffic will not even reach the minimum required? If the importance of Tara and the Gabhra Valley and the destruction of our heritage does not anger people let us hope that this immoral deal will.

Related Link: http://www.savetara.com

Who is on the Toll payroll?
Who is on the Toll payroll?

author by Terencepublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 01:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Given the current economic situation and the dire state of the country it is likely to be quite a long time before we pull out of this downturn and therefore traffic levels will continue to fall. In the last major recession back in the early 1980s, the number of cars in Ireland actually fell due to lower sales and the ever present removal by scraping of older cars from the 'car population'. The same is happening now. And the green shoots are a myth. NAMA will be a burden to this country in the same way as Third World Debt has destroyed many countries.

It seems that Tara has been destroyed for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. It is an indictment of the FF party, the so called republican party that they have destroyed the very thing which is considered to be the heart of Ireland.

It is quite clear now that the original plans approved for the bypass for Dunshaughlin and another for Navan would have been more than sufficient to deal with the traffic. Had the rail link be re-introduced instead of this white elephant, it would have cost a tiny fraction of the M3, we would still have Tara intact and we would have a sustainable public transport option.

It is very clear that FF, the council and the road lobby have no intention of ever allowing the rail link to be built.

author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 09:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dempsey along with Cullen, Roche and anyone else who had anything to do with the approval of the M3 contracts should resign from whatever godforsaken post they now hold here or in the EU and crawl under a rock somewhere in utter disgrace. What they have done is a crime against the Irish people. They brought about the ruination of this country by their desecration of Tara.

Demon Dempsey
Demon Dempsey

Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
author by SerfsUppublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 09:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think we need start a campaign to bring back the stocks and put all these greedy corrupt bastards into them for selling out our country's resources and sentencing generations of irishmen and their children to penury with their bailouts. Instead they draw huge salaries and pensions. How stupid they must think we all are. What utter contempt they must hold the Irish people in to do these things.

author by Carmel Divineypublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We are preparing a rousing welcome outside the Dáil when they return from their holidays on Sept 16th. Keep that date free. I'm sure we wont be the only protest group there! Join in, bring banners and spread the word. Thanks.

Protest 08
Protest 08

Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is just another example of Fianna Fail corruption .
IT HAS TO BE STOPPED ONCE AND FOR ALL. Start the revolution.
Why not start with an organised campaign to refuse to pay road tolls. They do not have enough prison space to put every one in jail.

author by SerfsUppublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sounds good, and it might even get a tiny bit of publicity, but unfortunately, all that would probably happen is that dempsey and co would just quietly pay the shortfall to his cronies out of our tax money then get hanafin to cut another few percent off social welfare to pay for it. Makes no difference to him

author by Notollpublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 15:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fair play to you and Tarawatch for keeping the heat on these thieves!

author by thegreenspirit - Privatepublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 18:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

At a climate change conference in Cultivate in 2008 the assembled politicians were backed into a corner and they came out with busses, busses and more busses. This was their only practical idea on reducing carbon emissions.
However when I asked them why there were no plans to build even one new bus depot there was an embarrassed silence. Then it was pointed out that Noel Dempsey had vetoed this twice. As Minister for the Environment and then Minister for Transport this should have been on his immediate hit list, there was a site earmarked for a depot in Sheriff Street but as we know it came to nothing.
The bus depot at Store Street was built in the 60s, it has no more than ten loading bays and it could not handle another thirty busses if they were bought, more than three hundred would be needed to make even a dent on what must be done.
It is now clear that tolls, busses, climate change, Tara etc, were all sacrificed to the truth; that nothing would come between Dempsey and his mad, bad M3 dream.
Some day he and Ahern must be brought before a court and be made answer for the crimes they committed against us, the Irish People. Those crimes now endanger us all.

author by Makepiecepublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 18:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And we shouldn't forget dempsey's involvement in the corrib gas giveaway too. Everything that man touched turned to shit for the Irish people. It's just my opinion (not just mine though) but I Bet he is up to his eyeballs in corrupt dealings over roads and corrib gas. I believe some day it will come out how corrupt dempsey truly was, but he is a cute hoor too so I doubt he wrote down much that might incriminate him.

author by Tara Campaignerpublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 02:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This wasn't a Tarawatch initative Notoll.

The controversy was stirred up by a letter to the Meath Chronicle by Muireann Ni bhrolchain of Save Tara.

But that doesn't really matter. Hopefully on this ocassion Tarawatch will interact more positively then they usually do.

author by Morriganpublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 08:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maybe the Greens might have the guts to go through with their walkout over NAMA, maybe then this contract ( which is a bail out for the road builders just like the developers got) could be renegotiated by a new Govt? I can but hope.

author by NoAgain - The Anti-Organisationpublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 08:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If they can cut the Dole, the Xmas Bonus and the Children's Allowance, then why can't they legislate to cut Ferrovial ?

Cuts in Disability Allowance, Health, Hospitals and Education will be used to finance the likes of Ferrovial at a time when transport on our roads is down due to the Recession !

There shouldn't have to be any campaign to inform the Irish taxpayer - if our newspapers would do their journalistic duty and inform the taxpayer in the first place !!!

Perhaps it would be a good idea to arrange for a deputation to meet with the NUJ and ask them to insist to the editors that the taxpayer has a right to know and to know the truth !

author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well said! The fact is that they knew all of this for years and sat on it. It's only Muireann's recent repeat letters to the Press that prompted current investigation. It seems only a recession can jolt any sort of responce. Perhaps it will help to sell papers, hmmmn?

The Politicians knew for years too of course and now sickeningly some of them are feigning indignation like its the first they ever heard of it! Those ones also should be forced to resign. Bring on the Revolution so we can get rid of the bloody lot of them!

Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
author by Notollpublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 16:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Tara campaigner, Tarawatch have been pushing the toll initiative for years, and it is sad to see your snide comments against fellow campaigners. Did you participate in the toll hearing? Did you support their demonstration at the Competition Authority yesterday?

NRA denies that hearing into plan to toll M3 is a ‘farce’
Elaine Keogh

The Irish Times
Thursday, January 18, 2007

The National Roads Authority (NRA) yesterday told the hearing into objections to its proposal to toll the M3 motorway that it expected to sign a contract for the public-private partnership (PPP) in the coming weeks.

The NRA denied this made the hearing a “farce” or a “camouflage” .

It also said the charges proposed for the two toll plazas along the 47km motorway “have not been set at levels that would maximise revenue”.

The road will cost €680 million and link Clonee on the Dublin/Meath border to Kells.

A car will pay a toll of €1.30, which is the “lowest planned car toll on the national roads network,” said Gerry Murphy, the head of public-private partnerships and tolling with the NRA.

Meath County Council objected to the tolling, and Cllr John Farrelly said he believed 70 per cent of the 16,000 people who commuted daily to Dublin from Kells would face an annual bill of up to €2,112 if they used the motorway. They would, therefore, continue to use the N3.

He asked the inspector chairing the hearing, Dom Hegarty, if the holding of the hearing was a “camouflage” as he believed the decision had been made to sign the contract for the PPP in the next three weeks.

Mr Murphy said it would be signed within the next two months, possibly one month.

He said it was a flexible contract which gave the NRA the option of deciding not to toll the scheme or to remove the tolls later.

A number of protesters, including members of Tara Watch, an umbrella group for organisations concerned about the possible impact of the M3 on the Hill of Tara, were in the audience and made statements.

Tara Watch said the hearing was a “farce” and should give people the right to reject it. However it appeared the contract was going to be signed anyway.

During the hearing one woman heckled the inspector and the NRA team, alleging they had not done their job properly.

author by Jasonpublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 17:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

drove from Dublin to galway a few days ago and the motorway all the way to ballinasloe was fantastic, if u dont want to pay a toll drive the back road and bust your tyres, typical object to everything! if ye were around when the wheel was invented ye would have objected!!!!!!

author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Wed Aug 19, 2009 17:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jason I hope you enjoy paying it twice for the next 45 years

author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Wed Aug 26, 2009 17:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Published: Wednesday, 26th August, 2009 5:51am

Tolls issue raised five years ago
Comments (0) | Print | Email

Dear sir - I read with consternation the amount of column space you devoted in your edition dated 15th August to the €580 million in total revenue that the toll operator Eurolink will earn over the 30 year contract for the M3. The quote from Deputy Shane McEntee is nothing new. Others and I flagged, during the local election campaign of 2004, that commuters from Kells would be paying two tolls on each journey to Dublin. Both Deputy McEntee and Councillor Brian Fitzgerald who is also quoted in your article, knew about this some time ago and should have resisted it fiercely. They should also have had the foresight to realise that the taxpayer would be left to fund any deficit in toll revenue to the toll operator.

However at the planning stage both of them ignored the financial burden that would fall on the taxpayer and issued instead numerous unsubstantiated statements about the number of new jobs the M3 would bring to Meath. I remember attending a public meeting in Navan about the M3 where the former Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen, stated that as Dublin grows it is becoming more and more imperative to serve the bordering counties with an extensive motorway system. In other words, the M3 motorway will serve the Dublin economy and the thousands of Meath commuters who work there.

It is becoming more apparent that this M3 motorway will eventually become a white elephant. Increasing fuel costs caused by depleting world oil stocks will result in many commuters leaving their cars at home. The toll costs will result in commuters continuing to use the existing N3. Your article quotes Deputy Thomas Byrne talking out of both sides of his mouth on this - "It will take thousands of cars off the N3 every day" and "the N3 will still be open for those who do not wish to pay a toll".

Then there is also the reopening of the Navan rail line promised for 2015. This will rightly encourage traffic off the roads but it seems totally paradoxical that elected public representatives in Meath can now huff and puff about toll charges which they knew about five years ago but fail to recognise the long term commercial and economic viability of the M3 project insofar as it will be adversely affected by a changing commuter preference for rail travel and lower commuting costs.


Brian Flanagan,

Kilcarn Court,


author by Rosaleen Allenpublication date Mon Aug 31, 2009 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Rosaleen Allen



County Meath

Mob: 086-3256637

Dear Sir,

Talk about ‘shutting the door after the horse has bolted!’ Where have Deputy Shane McEntee and Cllr Brian Fitzgerald been these last few years? Certainly not at the M3 Toll Oral Hearing in Navan on 17th January 2007, anyway!

To be fair, Deputy McEntee was there at the beginning of the hearing, but left shortly

after it got under way. Cllr Fitzgerald did not attend, like so many of our public representatives, who were conspicuous by their absence (with the notable exception of Cllr Philip Cantwell and a few members of Meath County Council). There was not a local TD in sight!

Maybe they knew something that those of us who took time off work to attend, did not. I was so infuriated by the total lack of democratic process at the time, that I contacted several TD’s to ask why they had not attended and although the excuses varied, Dominic Hannigan was the most honest and explained to me that these ‘hearings’ are simply a process of going through the motions and that as the NRA Board make the final decision anyway, are a waste of time. He was right!

Neither Deputy McEntee nor Cllr Fitzgerald made any objections and those of us who did were ignored. Even the Inspector, Dom Hegarty, who was supposed to be impartial, but was appointed by the NRA, admitted that the Hearing was illegal as the money for the M3 had already been released the day before. The NRA even refused to issue transcripts of the public meeting, forcing those who wanted them to apply under the FOI Act, a wait of several weeks.

Those of us who have watched in horror as the precious landscape around Tara has been mutilated, have pointed out from the beginning that there were going to be two tolls on this road. So why the big surprise NOW? Questions WERE asked at the hearing about the grossly inflated projected figures for the Year 2024 - estimated at 54,700 a day through the southern plaza, by a member of the public – and promptly ignored by the NRA. These are the figures which the toll operator will now use for the next 40 years to claim any deficit in revenue and they were able to set them with impunity.

If Deputy McEntee and Cllr Fitzgerald really are concerned about this issue, why did they not make their voices heard loud and clear at the Oral Hearing and since? Surely these public representatives all have a duty of care to attend such important meetings and ensure that this kind of daylight robbery does not take place. Such neglect in any other profession would result in dismissal for Gross Misconduct.

While the people of Meath have been slumbering, intoxified by the Celtic Tiger, our government have been selling and mutilating their most precious assets from under their noses. We are now left with a motorway that few can afford to use, but will have to pay for anyway.

Shouldn’t we now be asking those responsible about why this was allowed to happen? Let’s start with asking Minister Noel Dempsey. After all, he is a Government Minister and a Meath man who presided over the whole affair – and still continues to do so. (By the way, he wasn’t at the hearing either!)

I invite him to reply to this letter.

Yours etc.

Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
author by Edmund - -publication date Tue Sep 08, 2009 21:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Every one is just going to use the old N3 and turn of at pace go across the motorway bridge and into the new station

author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Forward message:

This is to draw or re-draw your attention to an upcoming symposium dealing with the Hill of Tara, county Meath, Ireland. The event, to be held in UCD over the weekend of 23rd-26th October 2009, brings together an international group of invited speakers for a collaborative review of the archaeology and meaning of Tara. Further information is contained in the attachment and on the symposium web page. An up-to-date version of the symposium programme is now available. Please excuse any cross-posting that may occur and we would appreciate it if you would display and circulate this notice for those that may be interested.


Tara Symposium: From the Past to the Future

23rd-26th October 2009

Following the publication by Wordwell of reports on Seán P. Ó Ríordáin’s excavations at the Mound of the Hostages (Muiris O’Sullivan 2005) and Rath of the Synods (Eoin Grogan 2008), the UCD School of Archaeology, in association with the UCD John Hume Institite for Global Irish Studies and the UCD Humanities Institute of Ireland, is hosting a symposium entitled Tara – From the Past to the Future.

Featuring approximately forty papers by an international group of scholars, the symposium promises to be the most extensive review of the archaeology of Tara undertaken to date. It focuses on the data from the two excavation volumes but extends to a wider consideration of research undertaken at Tara over the past twenty years. Themes include:

The archaeology of Tara

Papers subjecting particular aspects of the archaeology of Tara to detailed scrutiny

Underlying question: What more can be mined from the archaeological data?

Tara in its local and regional setting

Contributions examining the locality around Tara and exploring how Tara interacted with its surroundings at various times in the past

Underlying question: What was the settlement history of the landscape around the Hill of Tara?

Comparative perspectives on Tara

A variety of speakers examining Tara from the perspective of other iconic places such as Stonehenge and Carnac

Underlying question: What is the international perspective on Tara?

The significance of Tara through time

Addressing the distinctive qualities that have set Tara apart from ancient times to the present

Underlying question: What dynamics have influenced the emergence of the Tara phenomenon?

The symposium, takes place during the October Bank Holiday weekend in the Clinton Auditorium, UCD, Belfield.

Professor Muiris O’Sullivan

UCD School of Archaeology

Further information: www.ucd.ie/archaeology/tarasymposium2009

Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Wed Sep 16, 2009 18:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pics of Tara people outside the Dál today to greet the returning politicians- especially Noel Dempsey ;)

At one stage a female protester, Lou, attempted to attach a banner to the railings but was quickly surrounded by Gardaí. Their attention was swift - maybe they thought she was going to climb over! The Press sensing the commotion also gathered around and gave us a highlight to the day :) Great fun, thanks.

Photos by Sean Gilmartin






Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
author by Tara Tara Tarapublication date Wed Sep 16, 2009 18:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One more


Related Link: http://www.savetara.com
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