Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions
Revised designs for the restoration of the national monument buildings at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, and the creation of a commemorative centre to the leaders of the 1916 Rising on the site, were approved by my predecessor under the National Monuments Acts on 30 April 2014.
Consent has been granted to the owners under those Acts for the full repair and conservation of the monument buildings. Consent had previously been refused for the demolition of any structures or the removal of any material from the site that dated from or before 1916. Plans for an underground car park within the boundary of the national monument site or for the demolition of the Moore Lane facades of Nos. 15 and 16 were also ruled out.
I believe that the decision made on the revised designs provides the means to secure the future of the national monument. The conditions attaching to the consent will also ensure that the restored buildings will have a standard of finish and appearance that befits their historical importance.
I have recently visited the national monument and have been through the entire site. During my visit I spoke to a number of the Moore Street traders who are very supportive of the plans for the monument and the proposals to redevelop the wider area. I have also offered meetings to both of the 1916 Moore Street relatives groups next week and expect to discuss the plans for the national monument with them. However, it is important to note that advancement of the project, which relates to a previous grant of planning permission, is a matter for the owners to progress in consultation with Dublin City Council.
The Government's proposals to preserve and develop Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, while welcome, are totally inadequate. Is the Minister aware that among the buildings on Moore Street the developer, Chartered Land Limited, proposes to demolish, there are structures which predate the 1916 Rising? However, the reason given for not conserving buildings on this historic site has been that these were post-1916 buildings. These buildings lie both within the terrace containing the national monument and within what the Taoiseach has called the "lanes of history".
The evidence exists to show that many of the structures alleged to be post 1916 do, in fact, predate the Easter Rising. Is the Minister aware that the facade of No. 18 was identified as a pre-1916 structure that was still standing in 1916 in the conservation report that accompanied the environmental impact study of 2011 by Gráinne Shaffrey? Does she realise that this key point was omitted from the Shaffrey battlefield report? Will the Minister freeze the consent order for the works proposed by Chartered Land Limited on and around the national monument?
The preservation order covers Nos. 14-17, with the objective of protecting No. 16, as the final headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising prior the surrender. A small number of buildings on Moore Street, in varying states of order, can be identified with specific events which took place within them, with No. 16 being the main one. It was what the then Minister was asked to save when the preservation order was being made in 2007. It was also decided to preserve Nos. 14, 15 and 17. Most of the buildings on Moore Street have been altered extensively since 1916 and retain little of the character of that time. In light of this, the substantially intact structures at Nos. 14-17 take on a greater significance and the importance of their protection becomes more evident and relevant.
My remit is confined to the boundaries of the national monument site at Nos. 14-17. Dublin City Council is responsible for the development of the wider area, which has been dealt with comprehensively by the council and An Bord Pleanála under the planning Acts since the making of the preservation order in 2007. The current planning permission dates from 2010.
Sinn Féin disagrees with the decision to grant a licence to Chartered Land Limited to demolish Moore Street and turn it into a shopping centre. The decision by the Government to grant permission for the development of Moore Street to go ahead is tantamount to the obliteration of what the National Museum has called the most important site in modern Irish history. Will the Minister commission an independent battlefield survey as recommended by the Dublin City Moore Street advisory council?
A comprehensive assessment has already been carried out at my Department's request, as part of the consent application under the National Monuments Act, for the proposed works on the national monument site. The consent applicants, Chartered Land Limited, which owns the national monument site, was asked by my Department, in January 2012, to commission an assessment of the wider battlefield context of the national monument as part of the Minister's consideration of the consent application. The report reinforces the primary status of Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, most notably because of the degree to which pre-1916 fabric survives in association with the final critical hour of the Easter Rising and how these buildings stand up in contrast with the wider area.
The methodology for the assessment was drawn up and agreed in advance of my Department's national monument service and by the director of the National Museum of Ireland. The assessment was carried out by an eminent archaeologist and historian and the Department is satisfied with the quality of the research. I do not propose to seek a further assessment of the area.
I have no function in regard to the regulation of development, outside the bounds of the preservation order. As required under the National Monuments Act, an application for consent in respect of the proposed works to Nos. 14-17 Moore Street was submitted to my Department on behalf of Chartered Land Limited in June 2001.