Tuesday, 2 February 2016
National Monuments: Motion [Private Members]
Moreover, the families of many Members of this House were involved in the War of Independence and so on. Consequently, Members respect those ideals and consider it to be quite proper that in this centenary year, they should be honoured in every way possible. They should be honoured in respect of what they stood for and the direction in which they placed the country with regard to equality and a focus on children in a far-reaching Proclamation that incorporated those ideals.
Second, we should respect the built heritage that also is theirs and this is what the Government has been seeking to do. The last act of the present Administration in respect of this matter has been to obtain the buildings on Moore Street for the State in order that they can be properly preserved. They now are in State ownership, which was not the case until late last year and this is major progress and a considerable step forward. It now is the responsibility of the Minister and the Government to work together with the National Museum to ensure the development that takes place is in line with the requirements under the National Monuments Act. I have put on the record previously the manner in which Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street became a national monument and it did not happen by chance. Unfortunately, none of those people who now speak from the rooftops most loudly were involved in any way in getting Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street declared a national monument and nor were they involved in any way in preventing planning permission for a shopping mall being put in place. They cry loudly now but when they had a chance to make a difference, they were nowhere to be seen and nor were they anywhere to be heard. However, as a general election is to take place in 2016, they now are shouting from the rooftops.
Although the manner in which Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and the General Post Office, GPO, were declared national monuments has been put on the record previously, I will repeat it. The National Graves Association brought to my attention that the plaque which had been erected in 1966 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rising had been taken down by a businessman and had been hidden for devious reasons. It eventually was found and was re-erected and it was in this context that I brought a motion to Dublin City Council requesting that No. 16 Moore Street be given its proper recognition and that the plaque would be restored. In due course, this was accepted by all the councillors at the time and that was the first step forward. Arising from that, a request was made for Gráinne Shaffrey and the architecture firm Shaffrey Associates to conduct an examination of the area. When that firm discovered it was not simply No. 16 Moore Street that was the focus of attention at the time but that the surrounding houses, Nos. 14 to 17, had been closely identified with the rebels, Shaffrey Associates recommended that Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street be declared a national moment. The then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, agreed and the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche, brought forward the necessary proposals. Consequently, in 2007, the GPO and Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street were declared national monuments. Throughout all that time, up to the declaration of a national monument, not a single member of Sinn Féin on the city council ever spoke in favour of it. It is incredible; they were conspicuous by their absence and had not the slightest interest in the national monument on Moore Street. Members can check the record if they think it is different; it is not. Now, nine years later, they suddenly have discovered a national monument on Moore Street and people who never opened their mouths when there was something to be done are telling us all about it, as though they were the guardians of the national monument.
Much later, however, when planning applications were made to Dublin City Council by a number of companies which sought to compile a large property portfolio in order that there could be large developments in the area, was there any sign of objections from Sinn Féin councillors? They could have stood up at the time and opposed the shopping mall for which planning permission was granted. I have heard this being trotted out by Sinn Féin Members all night. Not one of the party's councillors turned up.