Humphreys claiming 1916 Moore St ‘battle site’ does not exist

Court told a national monument can include the remains and ruins of buildings

Prionsias O Rathaille, grandson of Michael Joseph O Rathaille known as ‘The O’Rathaille’ who is one of those campaigning against the demolition of No 13 and No 18 Moore Street, Dublin. Photograph: Collins

The Minister for Arts and Heritage is maintaining a Moore Street "battlefield site" linked to the 1916 Rising does not exist and events there "have no significance", the High Court has been told.

Heather Humphreys's view conflicts with that of Dr Pat Wallace, a former director of the National Museum, who had urged preservation of the site as a 1916 battlefield site and warned of the cultural and moral fallout of failure to do so, Conleth Bradley SC said.

Mr Justice Max Barrett has begun hearing three sets of proceedings brought by Colm Moore, as a nominee of the 1916 Relatives Association, against the Minister which are aimed at preserving the buildings and site linked to the Rising.

The judge, at the request of the sides, visited the area in advance of the action. The case will involve arguments about buildings, basements and walls and the extent of the area of a national monument in the Moore Street area, Mr Bradley said.


While the State argued certain buildings are “in ruins”, his case was a national monument can include the remains and ruins of buildings.

The State was putting "huge emphasis" on archaeological and architectural factors but not so much on historical matters which are a "huge part" of what is a national monument, he said. The State is contending there is one building of importance, No 16 Moore Street, where it intends to house a Rising Commemorative Centre, and other buildings at Nos 14,15 and 17 were just a support to that, he said.

The State contended the extent of the declared national monument is Nos 14-17 but it went “much further than that”, he said.

It was also “curious” the State owns part of No 18 but does not accept that part is a national monument, he added. Once there is a national monument, the minister must protect it, counsel argued.

The Minister’s position was “quite bizarre” and “unusual” as she was both the guardian and developer, having acquired Nos 14-17 and part of No 18.

The Minister cannot decouple a planned “huge” mixed development of the area by Chartered Land from the entre planning permission held by Chartered Land, counsel said.

The Minister is guardian of the national monument but is also planning to destroy the national monument due to also being a developer of part of it, he said.

Works to some of the buildings were not authorised and his side wanted a court order requiring the Minister to reconsider her approach, counsel said. The consent for works given by the Minister altered the planning permission, he argued.

Mr Justice Barrett is hearing three sets of proceedings brought by Mr Moore. Some relatives of the 1916 leaders, including James Connolly Heron, are in court for the case.

Mr Moore, Sandyford Road, Dundrum, alleges several buildings on Moore Street and Moore Lane are national monuments which must be preserved.

The case arises after a terrace of buildings at Nos 14,15,16 and 17 Moore Street, believed to be the last buildings where leaders of the Rising gathered prior to their surrender and subsequent execution, were designated national monuments.

Mr Moore claims the national monument designation should include lands and buildings of the terrace at Nos 13, 18 and 19, plus all and any part of buildings, basements or cellars located on Moore Street and/or Moore Lane.

Chartered Land, the developer of a major shopping centre which will include the planned commemorative centre, is a notice party to the proceedings.

The Minister has argued the cases may affect intended completion of a planned commemorative centre in time for the Rising centenary commemorations in April.

While she will leave in place for the time being her undertaking to refrain from certain demolition works, the Minister is concerned about exposure to financial penalties and may also seek injunctions restraining protests at the site which are continuing, her lawyers said. The opening of the case was delayed today for an hour after Michael McDowell SC, for the Minister, sought to have some sworn statements for his side admitted after being filed outside the deadlines set by the court.

The judge said the State, despite its “manifest resources”, had consistently failed to comply with deadlines set by the court and it seemed to have little concern people were being inconvenienced.

Despite his “considerable vexation” about how the State has proceeded, he ruled the affidavits could be admitted. The case continues.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times