Dáil motion seeks to protect 1916 Rising site


CALLS FOR the national monument in Dublin’s Moore Street to be recognised as a “historic battlefield” and preserved as a historic cultural quarter is a “completely and entirely separate” issue from the application currently before the Minister for Heritage.

Jimmy Deenihan told the Dáil it was “not clear how a battlefield site project could be developed” at the site given the existing planning permission for the site where the leaders of the 1916 Rising signed their surrender. He was responding to a Sinn Féin private member’s motion introduced by heritage spokeswoman Sandra McLellan, who said the GPO, Moore Street and the laneways between it and O’Connell street form “the most important battlefield site in modern Irish history”.

This area “must be fully protected, carefully preserved and sensitively developed as a cultural quarter” in time for the centenary.

Ms McLellan said the motion was about “how much we owe those men and women who almost 100 years ago defied a powerful empire and proclaimed the Irish Republic”.

The condition of the monument was “nothing short of disgraceful” and Ms McLellan said the motion was “clearly calling on the Government to invest in cultural tourism”.

Relatives of the 1916 Rising leaders who have campaigned for the site’s preservation were among those in the visitors’ gallery during the debate, which concludes tonight. A preservation order was made in 2007 for 14-17 Moore Street and land and buildings to the rear, but Mr Deenihan said that the order did not take account of a “battlefield” area. The Minister said it was his intention to make a decision on the “consent application as soon as the necessary deliberations and consultations have been completed”.

He was committed to the “longer-term preservation and protection of the national monument itself” but he pointed out that Moore Street and the surrounding area “have not remained static since 1916”.

Ms McLellan said the area was still under threat and the proposed plan of the developer would “effectively destroy the national monument leaving only a facade which would be engulfed in a very large-scale edifice”.

The developer Joe O’Reilly was “seen as a member of the golden circle and currently is now in Nama”, she said.

Fianna Fáil backed the Sinn Féin motion and heritage spokesman Robert Troy said “this country does not need another shopping centre”.