Today, during Leaders’ Questions, Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan raised the recent protests at Moore Street.
Ms O’Sullivan specifically asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny why the Government isn’t doing more to protect the entire Moore Street terrace and not just the buildings numbered 14-17.
Maureen O’Sullivan: “On the 1st of January in Dublin Castle, there was an impressive flag-raising ceremony to start the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. An amazing array of launches and events is being held not just in Ireland, but also abroad, by a wide number of organisations. A number of restorations are ongoing, for example, Kilmainham court and Pearse’s cottage. It appears to me, and others, that this and previous Governments would have preferred it had the men and women involved been airlifted from the GPO to Richmond Barracks and Kilmainham Gaol, thereby bypassing Moore Street. However, they did not bypass it and it is part of the evacuation route. It was also witness to a number of events, not just involving the leaders in Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, but the ordinary men and women who took part as well as citizens in Dublin.”
“Shaffrey Associates conducted a wider assessment of the 1916 battlefield as part of the ministerial consent to carry out work. I will cite parts of that assessment. The block exactly matches the terrace into which the majority of the GPO garrison escaped. The activities relating to the 1916 Rising that took place on Moore Street happened throughout the entire street, on adjacent lanes and within many of the buildings. The assessment specifically mentions buildings other than Nos. 14-17. Furthermore, Article 1 of the Venice Charter reads: “The concept of a historic monument embraces not only the single architectural work but also the urban or rural setting”. Article 6 reads: “Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition or modification which would alter the relations of mass and colour must be allowed.” To me, this means that the fabric of Moore Street and its area must be retained.”
“If one walked into Kilmainham Gaol or Pearse’s cottage or if one went to Brú na Bóinne, one would immediately get a sense of what it was like to have been there at the time in question. This is what we could have at Moore Street. Last week or the week before, the Taoiseach launched a virtual reality tour of Easter 1916. I do not want that to form part of what we will do for Moore Street when we have the opportunity to retain the authenticity of Moore Street now. Westport House was withdrawn from NAMA. Under section 4.1.1 of the NAMA Act, that was possible for legitimate reasons in the public interest.”
“The Government had the power to designate Nos. 14-17 Moore Street as a national monument. Why was this designation not extended to the rest of the terrace? Why has the Taoiseach abandoned what he called the “laneways of history” and why are we leaving it to a vulture capitalist to look after the rest of the battlefield site?“
Enda Kenny: “Thanks, Deputy. I looked at this myself quite a number of years ago. To put it mildly, the condition of the street and of the buildings on either side of what is a national monument were simply disgraceful. I have listened to all of the rows about the national monument, about what should or should not be done about it. For that reason, the Government purchased the national monument.”
“This has dragged on for some many years with so many different variations, given the fact that Dublin City Council, as the planning authority, has responsibility in respect of applications that come before it for planning permission both in respect of Moore Street and the lanes of history at the back of O’Connell Street and so on.”
“In respect of the centenary commemorations for 2016, Government decided to purchase this for a sum of €4million and to restore this building in a proper, authentic and time of the period fashion. As I understand it the maps show clearly other documents, buildings on either side were either non-existent or in a state of collapse before the Rising took place in 1916. And you are right, this was the centre of the end of the evacuation process from the side door of the GPO…but you know Deputy O’Sullivan what the Government wants to do for the people here and for posterity is to take the buildings where the surrender was commissioned from and preserve that as a national monument in respect of one of the first small countries to achieve its, to strike out for independence, politically and economically at the start of the 20th century.
The Government don’t own all the streets and the buildings on either side of 14-17. The Government do own, in respect of the people now, these buildings and the intention is to have that restored in a proper, fitting fashion. It is not a case of just, of the vulture capitalists, the venture capitalists or capitalists doing what they like in respect of the remainder of the surrounding area. The responsibility for planning and for approval of that lies initially with Dublin City Council and, beyond that, if there’s an objection, An Bord Pleanála and that’s independent of the process of Government…”
O’Sullivan: “When you did the right thing, with part of it, why could you not have gone further and have done the right thing with the whole area. In 2014, we had this exchange also and you said to me that commemorative events had to be inclusive, sensitive and appropriate. Now I want to go back two weeks and to just 14 to 17 first of all. The occupation should never have happened. But what happened on that Monday was completely disrespectful, undignified and insensitive to what has happened in 14 to 17. It was all cloak and dagger stuff, there was no conservation expert on hand to oversee the work that was going on, somebody happened to arrive along and heard workers there with claw hammers and, no disrespect to the workers, but they didn’t know where they were, what they were doing and the significance of the building.”
“Now there have been so many mistakes in the reports and I just take one. Number 18 is, in one conservation report saying, that the facade singled out was pre-1916. And in another report, it was omitted. And we know that once something is destroyed, it’s gone forever. And we have examples of that. Now, so far, the Government, the taxpayer, paid €9million €4million to buy and €5million has been designated for 14 to 17. My questions is: whose plan are we following? Because it doesn’t appear to be the State plan, it appears to be the plan that was drawn up by the developer, the same, failed property developer, who wanted to build over, under, around and on top of the national monument. So that seems to be the plan that we’re following.”
“Now I’ve just been to a meeting at [Dublin] City Hall – the Moore Street Forum. Dublin City Council were represented and of course they’re saying that the minister has responsibility, you’re saying Dublin City Council have responsibility. Now there was a motion passed in the city council on the 11th of January and that motion has to be taken on board by the minister and the Government. And because the Government are passing it one way, Dublin City Council are passing it another way, there is a need, and I think the Government and the minister have to take the lead on this for all of the stakeholders to come together, at the same time, so that these matters can be addressed. Because time is very much running out.”
Previously: Moore Of It