Minister defends firm’s role at 1916 site on Moore Street

Sinn Féin TD questions links between heritage site’s manager and retail developer

Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys has defended the company managing the 1916 site at Moore Street. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys has defended the company managing the 1916 site at Moore Street. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys has defended the company managing the 1916 site at Moore Street, after Sinn Féin questioned links between the firm and a builder planning a major retail development in the area.

In the Dáil, Sinn Féin heritage spokesman Peadar Tóibín asked why the Office of Public Works (OPW) was not managing the national monument site at Moore Street, where the leaders of the 1916 Rising signed their surrender.

Through Nama, the State purchased four adjoining houses on the site from the company Chartered Land, which planned a major shopping development in the area.

Mr Tóibín said the company hired to manage the site, Lissadell Construction, had links with Chartered Land.

He said that “it does not give us full confidence” that a company associated with Chartered Land “is working to the objectives of the State”.

Ms Humphreys said the key skills and strengths of the OPW lay in the conservation of ancient fabric and structures in places such as Newgrange, Clonmacnoise, the Rock of Cashel and Skellig Michael.

The Minister said that in cases where works were required for heritage buildings of more recent origin, the OPW “will generally utilise the services of experienced construction companies that possess the necessary skills and expertise to work on listed, heritage and protected structures”.

She said the contractor employed on Moore Street was responsible for key phases of the stabilisation of the structure at Kilmainham Courthouse, allowing the building to be adapted as a visitor centre.

Mr Tóibín claimed the Moore Street battlefield site was the most important heritage site in contemporary Irish history.

“In many ways, it represents the collision of two Irelands, the Celtic Tiger developer Ireland and the selfless sacrifice of the volunteers of 1916, colliding in one space.”

CCJV

The Meath West TD said he was very concerned about the involvement of CCJV in the project, “because I understand it is an associate company of some sort of Chartered Land, the previous owner of the property”.

“If I bought a property it would be strange for the previous owners to be still working on it years after I made the purchase.”

However, the Minister said: “Our contract is with Lissadell Construction, which is carrying out the work. It is a highly respected heritage builder and the OPW uses it regularly on different sites.”

Ms Humphreys added that CCJV was an affiliate single-purpose entity set up as a special purpose vehicle.

She said it oversees and manages boundary arrangements, including security elements, access, rights of way and intellectual property between the national monument project and adjacent properties.

“It is not involved in the restoration work, which is under the instruction of the courts,” the Minister said.

“Lissadell is doing the work but this is a special-purpose vehicle to deal with the other issues.”

Mr Tóibín said the site could remain under-developed for years and in a state of dereliction because of the State’s decision to appeal a High Court judgment that the various buildings and sites on and around Moore Street comprise a national monument.

Ms Humphreys said the judgment was appealed “because it was going to have a significant impact across the country on essential infrastructure projects”.