Tuesday, 2 February 2016
National Monuments: Motion [Private Members]
While the events of Easter week 1916 took place primarily to the backdrop of the city of Dublin, men and women from across the country participated in the rebellion. As the Minister should know, there is no county more proud than County Monaghan with our close links to James Connolly, Margaret Skinnader and Bernard MaCartan Ward, among others, who played prominent roles and who marched out on that fateful Easter Monday. In this centenary year every county in Ireland will organise commemorative events and reflect on how 1916 changed the history and political course of Ireland. However, this is all happening at a time when relatives of our 1916 heroes have been forced to go to court to halt construction work - destructive work perhaps better describes it - to the historic battle site and final meeting place of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic at Easter 1916. This is a damning indictment of this Government and demonstrates the utter contempt that it has shown to the legacy of the men and women of 1916.
The responsibility lies with the Government to safeguard our culture and heritage. Instead, the contrary has happened. It has allowed the developers, speculators and profiteers to take control. It fed off grossly inflated property prices during the Celtic tiger and it saw this street and this site purely as a source of speculative profit. That continues to this day because now, in our so-called recovery, more interests are lining up to see how they can profit from this site. Today a developer plans to level most of it in order to build a shopping mall. This cannot happen and we must not let it happen. It is imperative that we preserve this site. Its historic, cultural arid political significance cannot be over-stated.
I want to make a particular reference to the 1916 relatives committee who have worked tirelessly to secure a stay of works at Moore Street. It is astounding that in a matter of days, 100 years since the rising, relatives of the 1916 heroes will be in court again, battling the Government to preserve this area. As one of the most historically important sites in the history of the nation, Moore Street has a special place in the hearts of Irish people. It is vital to ensure that it is redeveloped in the respectful and dignified manner befitting of its status. We will not tolerate the destruction of any part of our 1916 heritage in this centenary year or - may I make it very clear - in any other year.
The people of Ireland, the Irish diaspora and friends of Ireland everywhere, are looking forward to this significant centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. There is also significant public support across the island of Ireland and throughout the diaspora for the full preservation of this national monument and the development of the surrounding General Post Office, GPO-Moore Street area into an historic revolutionary quarter and battlefield site which we have called for in this motion.
We also call on the Government to rescind immediately the ministerial order that allows for the demolition of Nos. 13,18 and 19 Moore Street; to work with Dublin City Council, 1916 relatives and all relevant stakeholders to implement an urban framework plan for the area bounded by Moore Street, Parnell Street and Henry Street that will retain Nos. 10 to 25 Moore Street; to meet and work through the Dublin City Council Moore Street Forum and the Moore Street Advisory Committee to achieve that; to develop a commemorative centre as part of a wider scheme for the regeneration of this historic quarter; and to rejuvenate street and market trading in the area.
The Labour Party and Fine Gael Party Government, and the entire Dáil, have an opportunity this evening to do the right thing now and support this motion to leave a legacy behind that will be enjoyed not only by future generations of Irish people but by many who will visit our shores eager and anxious to learn of the story of the Irish people in relatively modern, contemporary times. We look back over the past 100 years at the significant changes and advances that have been made and the opportunities that can still be built upon. We want to see the fulfilment of the hope and promise of the Proclamation. We want to see our children enjoy that hope and promise by living in the republic envisaged by those men and women who so proudly and courageously marched out on that Easter Monday, and we want to see a fitting memorial in the heart of this city where they took such a stand. Therefore, a revolutionary quarter and battlefield site that properly reflects all that they gave is the legacy this Dáil and the next one must leave.