McDonald accuses Taoiseach of surrendering historic site to developer

Angry exchanges over plans for future of Moore Street, O’Connell Street

An image of the new development for Moore Street including a planned archway. Illustration: Hammerson

An image of the new development for Moore Street including a planned archway. Illustration: Hammerson

 

There were angry Dáil exchanges between Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald in a row over plans by property group Hammerson for the regeneration of the Moore Street and O’Connell Street areas of Dublin.

Ms McDonald hit out at what she described as Mr Martin’s “glowing endorsement” of the plan in comments included in a press statement by the UK developer which is seeking planning permission for a mixed retail, office and residential scheme in the north inner city block where leaders of the 1916 Rising surrendered.

She said it was a “disgraceful situation” that not only was the Government surrendering apartment homes to private developers and absentee landlords but was now “surrendering one of the most significant sites in modern history to private developers”.

‘Fed up’

But rounding on the Sinn Féin leader the Taoiseach said he was “fed up” with her party’s “absolutely disgraceful cynicism”, accused her of creating another campaign for “keyboard warriors” to demonise Government and other parties, and said her party wanted to stand over 10 more years of neglect and dereliction.

The row erupted when Ms McDonald highlighted the announcement by Hammerson of its plans which had been lodged with Dublin City Council, and different significantly from a previous application two years ago.

In the statement released by Hammerson Mr Martin welcomed the plans to rejuvenate the site while preserving its historic and cultural heritage.

The Taoiseach said “the plans will enhance the status of O’Connell Street by developing new transport links and delivering new homes, retail facilities and offices which will boost employment in the area. The locations around Moore Street and the GPO will see an increasing number of visitors who will be drawn to the seminal role it played in our history.”

The Sinn Féin president said the Government “supports a plan to turn one of the most significant site in modern Irish history over to a private developer. Shame on the Government for taking that stance.”

Mr McDonald added that last March the Dáil voted to support a State-led plan for the regeneration of this area based on a Moore Street cultural quarter. She called on the Taoiseach to “desist from standing with the private developer” and pursue the approach agreed by the Dáil.

‘Beyond disgrace’

But rounding on Ms McDonald the Taoiseach said “the cynicism of your party is beyond disgrace”.

He said : “You pretend to work with people for years on a project, which you did on this one, then at the 11th hour you do another side turn and try and create a new agenda, a new narrative to try and demonise those in Government and other parties.”

He said 14-17 Moore Street is in the possession of State which had secured the “vital property” for history.

Government, he added is not prepared to stand over “continuing neglect of Dublin central more general and O’Connell’s street’s surrounding streets” but he claimed Sinn Féin wanted to stand over another decade of neglect and dereliction and “10 more years of nothing happening but just let’s get another campaign we can get the keyboard warriors on. Let’s get another campaign we can try and demonise people in Government.”

“I’m fed up of this kind of absolutely disgraceful cynicism. It’s similar to you voting against every single housing scheme that’s has come before councils in recent times.”