A “land swap” deal to allow the construction of a 1916 museum on Dublin’s Moore Street ahead of the Easter Rising centenary has been rejected by Dublin City Council.
Numbers 14-17 and number 10 Moore Street, buildings believed to have been used by the leaders of the Rising, were to have be transferred into council ownership to allow the development of a commemorative centre.
The buildings, which have National Monument status, are owned by Chartered Land, which has planning permission to build a shopping centre on a 2.7 hectare site stretching from the former Carlton cinema on O’Connell Street to Moore Street.
In exchange 24-25 Moore Street, council-owned buildings currently used as a waste depot, was to be transferred to Chartered Land but councillors voted against the proposal.
A condition of the swap was that Chartered Land would restore 14-17 Moore Street, currently in a dilapidated state, and complete the museum ahead of Easter 2016.
Campaigners wish to preserve the entire terrace and immediate area as a battlefield site.
Fine Gael, Labour and a number of independents were in favour of the swap proposal while Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and People before Profit opposed the plan.
Independent councillor Nial Ring who chaired the council’s Moore Street Advisory Committee said the result was an “insult” to the memory of the men, women and children of 1916.
“The current situation is that the National Monument site will be left as it is because the owner can separately purchase the site needed at 24/25 Moore Street, has a valid planning permission to build a shopping centre and has absolutely no obligation, legal, moral or otherwise, to build a heritage centre” said Cllr. Ring.
Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha welcomed the vote. Cllr Mac Donncha said: “It is very welcome that DCC, by majority vote, rejected the proposed land swap deal which would have seen most of the historic Moore Street terrace demolished.”
“It is now vital that a full and independent battlefield site survey is carried out. It is also essential that Minister Heather Humphreys brings together all concerned to come up with a new plan to protect, preserve and develop this historic quarter of our city”.
People Before Profit opposed the deal which, it claimed, would pave the way for the destruction of the historic 1916 Moore Street battlefield site, the “last remaining urban battlefield site in Europe, if not the world”.
Cllr John Lyons, a member of Dublin City Council’s Moore Street Advisory Committee, described the proposed land swap deal as “the toxic legacy of the Celtic Tiger period”.
He said if the deal was to proceed “Dublin City Council would be responsible for the destruction of what is, in the opinion of the National Museum of Ireland, ‘the most important historic site in modern Irish history’.”
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys held a meeting with relatives of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation last month. During the meeting, described as “heated” by family members, Ms Humphreys was presented with evidence of the historical significance of the buildings which are scheduled to be demolished to make space for the proposed shopping centre.