Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions
2. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on the current status of plans to commemorate the centenary of 1916; if key historical projects such as Teach an Phiarsaigh, the Moore Street Monument, and Kilmainham Courthouse, will be ready in time for that centenary; the way he intends to support the arts sector in commemorating the centenary. [51470/13]
I wish to ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the current status of plans to commemorate the 1916 centenary and whether he could give us an update on whether key historical projects such as Teach an Phiarsaigh, the Moore Street Monument and Kilmainham Courthouse will be ready in time for the centenary. The monuments must be renovated and developed prior to 2016. Could the Minister also outline the way he intends to support the arts sector in commemorating the centenary?
I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. It is my objective in relation to the 1916 centenary programme to bring forward a programme of commemorative events and projects that is comprehensive, authentic and inclusive. Having regard to the time remaining for preparations, my priority attention has been oriented towards the preparation of a number of capital projects that I believe would provide a significant and enduring acknowledgement of the Rising and the birth of the Irish Republic. Plans relating to key historical locations, including those mentioned by the Deputy, are under consideration. A capital allocation of €6 million for 2014 was announced in the recent budget to fund a number of commemoration projects including the GPO inner courtyard interpretative facility, the Military Archives, Teach an Phiarsaigh, and other projects.
Work has commenced on the Kilmainham Courthouse project, while I understand that the preparation of the military service pensions archive has progressed to enable the inaugural online launch of material to proceed at an early date, hopefully in January. Further announcements will be made on a continuing basis over the coming months on the several other capital projects relating to the Easter Rising.
The Deputy will also know that on 16 July last I made a determination in relation to a consent application and related environmental impact statement on the Moore Street National Monument which provides for the creation of a 1916 commemorative centre involving the full repair and conservation of the four buildings. The consent is conditional on a revised project design being submitted to me for approval within nine months of that decision date.
Other initiatives to excite interest and encourage participation are being carried forward. The online reporting of contemporary news continues with Century Ireland and attracts a wide audience. That was recently recognised with an award. Special arrangements such as the issue of commemorative postage stamps are being planned. The Department of Education and Skills recently announced a competition, organised in association with its counterpart in Northern Ireland, to encourage research and the study of history at primary and secondary level. Exhibitions, lectures and presentations are being prepared by the national cultural institutions, academic centres and by community groups throughout Ireland. The Abbey Theatre is currently staging a new production of James Plunkett's "The Risen People". The commemoration of the 1913 Lock-out was marked by a spirit of sincere co-operation between groups, not only ICTU and the national cultural institutions, but also local authorities, artists and communities.
It is my intention that commemorative arrangements for the centenary of the Easter Rising will build on this model.
I thank the Minister for his answer. I note that work has commenced on many projects, but I stress again the need to ensure the sites in question will be ready. The arts have a substantial role to play in the commemorative events. I note the great success of the selection of Strumpet City by Dublin City Public Libraries through the Dublin: One City, One Book project. This drew great attention to the Lock-out commemoration. Has the Minister had many engagements with the Arts Council and will any additional funding be provided to this end?
I have had engagements with all the national cultural institutions and the Arts Council. I am really very encouraged by their approach to and enthusiasm for the decade of commemoration, especially the focus on 1916. The centenary of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic will be a most important anniversary. I anticipate that the special arrangements for the location will be of interest internationally also.
As always, I welcome the views of the Members, including those of Deputy McLellan. The Deputy has engaged very positively since she assumed her position. The anniversaries of Home Rule and the Dublin Lock-out and the ceremony to mark the foundation of the volunteers were all very respectfully carried out. I am very happy that we have made a very promising start in the spirit of inclusiveness, tolerance and mutual respect.
The Minister mentioned Moore Street in his reply. The decision of 16 July was very welcome. Time is moving on and I stress again the importance of engaging with all the stakeholders and using whatever ministerial powers exist to ensure the historic site will be developed prior to the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
Have there been further developments regarding Moore Street? Has the Minister been notified by Chartered Land and has it submitted any further plans to date?
The major development, which I read recently in the newspaper, is that NAMA has committed a huge sum of money for the restoration of the monument. I was not directly notified of that by NAMA but it was in the national newspapers. I am waiting for another proposal from the developer about its intentions regarding the national monument. That is my responsibility, as I have pointed out so many times in the House. I have responsibility just for the national monument. We rejected the previous proposal concerning part of the site. I am awaiting a proposal by the developer as to what it now intends to do, having had that rejection. When I receive that proposal from the developer, I will make a determination. I hope the proposal will be submitted as soon as possible.
The remainder of the site, which is often referred to in the House, is a matter for Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála. It is their responsibility, whereas mine is for the national monument. I certainly welcome the report in the newspaper that a large sum of money has been committed. I await the proposal of the developer as regards the remainder of the site, apart from the houses.