Tuesday, 2 February 2016
National Monuments: Motion [Private Members]
I cannot imagine this scenario in any other country, that a battlefield site of its fight for independence would be destroyed with the encouragement of the government of the day on the centenary of such a momentous event as our 1916 Rising. I cannot imagine any other nation engaging in this erasure of its proud history. The truth is that this Government and the kind of people who support this kind of government, including the big developers, want to forget about the Rising. The Government has shown nothing but contempt for our revolution, for those who fought for the Republic, for our history and for our people. Once we realise that, it is not too hard to understand why the Government would want to wipe out such a fine battlefield site where such a body of men and women behaved heroically in the face of the enemy.
The same two Government parties and their counterparts in Fianna Fáil have shown contempt for the ideals of the Proclamation and have failed spectacularly to make even the slightest attempt to build the Republic envisaged by it. Instead, the carnival of reaction which occurred on both sides of the Border after partition has destroyed the concept of a republic and has created a society divided deeply by class and ruled by a political class devoted to making the rich richer and the poor poorer, while engaging in the corrupt politics of nod and wink.
The Labour Party, instead of defending workers and following the path set out by James Connolly, has surrendered itself again and again to the control of right-wing parties for the sake of a few crumbs of power. Its credibility is destroyed and the decent working people who used to support it are left disillusioned and disappointed.
The 1916 battlefield site and the GPO represent all the honour and bravery that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have abandoned. It includes the laneways and buildings of the full terrace in Moore Street. This is where the GPO garrison escaped to when the building was in flames and collapsing. In every one of the buildings on Moore Street those heroic men and women were present. It was here that the final council of war was held with five of the seven signatories of the Proclamation present. It was their last time together before being court-martialled and executed. It is hallowed ground and there is no other way to describe it.
Experts at home and abroad tell us how valuable the site is. The National Museum tells us that it is the most important site in Irish history. Even if a person was so cold-hearted and devoid of patriotism to ignore all that, even if the bottom line is simply to ask "What does it do for you", it makes no sense to destroy this terrace and the lanes and alleyways behind it.
Do tourists come to the capital city to see shopping centres the same as the shopping centres they have at home all over Europe and the world? No, they do not, they go abroad to see something unique, something particular to the country they are visiting. Imagine the boost to Dublin city centre to have a historical, cultural quarter celebrating and commemorating our struggle and the men and women who lived and fought and died in that struggle. I congratulate the relatives of the 1916 heroes who have achieved a stay of execution on Moore Street and who return to court next week to fight for its preservation.
I believe strongly that the people of Dublin will never let the bulldozers into Moore Street. I believe that the spirit of 1916 lives in the spirit of Hill 16 among the thousands of Dublin GAA members and supporters who have upheld a proud republican tradition. I believe that those Dubs and the people of the city who fought an empire will not let the destruction of Moore Street take place, not on their watch, not on my watch and certainly not on this party’s watch.
I appeal to the Government and to the Fianna Fáil Party and the Technical Group to make one of the last acts of this Dáil a unified one, a unified action to do the right thing - to save Moore Street for future generations. We need to save and preserve our history and we can do that here tonight but I doubt very much if those who have betrayed that consistently since the partition of this country will do the right thing.