The Dáil has been warned that plans to regenerate the Moore Street area of Dublin should not result in it being turned into another Temple Bar with stag parties and drinking late into the night.
The warning came as Sinn Féin introduced a private members’ Bill to create a new State body to manage the historical quarter around Moore Street, including the GPO and other sites associated with the 1916 rising,
Sinn Féin arts and culture spokesman Aenghus Ó Snodaigh said the intention of the Ceathrú Chultúir 1916 Bill “is to preserve the cobbled lanes of the buildings of Moore Street and restore the buildings” and create a “living museum”.
He said: “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
He noted there have been proposals from different groups, including one from the Moore Street Preservation Trust, which he said had “some absolutely beautiful illustrations of what could be”.
He said the area could have galleries, book shops, cafes, butchers, bakers, fruit stalls, flower shop stalls, tea shops with “history and day to day life, living hand in hand next to each other”.
Mr Ó Snodaigh added: “That’s what Moore Street could be rather than what’s been planned ... be that a big, huge shopping mall or office blocks.”
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the area was “hallowed ground” and “where the Republic lived” during the Rising. She said the food market in Moore Street is Dublin’s oldest market and pre-dates the Famine. It must be “preserved, enhanced and promoted” and that the property developer’s plan for the area should be rejected.
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith warned that the area can't be a replica of the Temple Bar Trust. "It cannot be about stag parties and drinking until all hours of the night or a means of topping up the profits of the drinks industry or the entertainment industry around it."
She also said that for the area to be part of a living city, it needs more public housing.
Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy pointed to the significance of Moore Street where five of the leaders of the 1916 Rising met for the last time.
He hit out at the sale of the site to a property consortium to acquire large tracts of land and buildings in the area. Large parts of the property ended up in State ownership via Nama, but “the State even then failed to recognise previous failures and the site were then fire-sold to another large British commercial retail shopping mall chain”.
TDs repeatedly referred to legislation to preserve the area introduced by Minister for Heritage Darragh O’Brien in 2015 when he was an opposition Senator.
But Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said "the reality is that we are in an entirely different situation now" and "in a much better place" with the national monument of 14-17 Moore Street owned by the State.
“It has been weathered and secured structurally, and there are plans to progress with the 1916 commemorative centre project.”
The Minister said he shared with Mr Ó Snodaigh “the same sense of the seminal importance of the 1916 Rising and its central place in the history of the State, and of the importance of commemorating it and preserving the traces and memories that remain of the events that occurred at that time and of the men, women and children who were involved”.
He said the development company “is engaging meaningfully with the Moore Street advisory group”. It will soon apply for planning permission for a mixed use development comprising family housing, retail and office units, along with public squares and open spaces.
The Government will not oppose the Bill but says it should got to committee for further scrutiny of “evident drafting and legal issues”.
Mr Noonan said he is due to receive the report of the Moore Street advisory group which will influence “whether there is a case for the Bill to progress further”.
Labour TD Duncan Smith said “preserving our history and culture is vital but we also need to protect the workers and street trades” and the Bill did this. He said the issue was to capture the intertwining history of the traders,the battlefield “in a world dominated by capitalism”.