Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Ceathrú Chultúir 1916 Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
Ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thógáil mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leo siúd ar fad a ghríos mé agus a chuidigh liom an obair seo a chur i gcrích. Gabhaim buíochas leo siúd ar fad atá gafa leis an bhfeachtas chun Sráid an Mhúraigh a chaomhnú. Tá a lán acu ann a bhí gafa san fheachtas sin sula raibh mise ceangailte leis. I thank my colleagues for allowing me to move Second Stage of the Ceathrú Chultúir 1916 Bill 2021. I look forward not only to seeing it progressing today but also to its progress through Committee Stage and back to the House again. Its purpose is to ensure that an area of Dublin city centre that is now quite derelict will be the location of an appropriate cultural quarter and an appropriate memorial to those who fought and died in 1916.
There are people who are consumed with anti-Sinn Féin hostility and cannot see beyond criticism of this legislation. In fact, the Bill is based on legislation that was introduced by the then Senator, now Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, for which I applauded him at the time. There have been other Bills introduced seeking to ensure that this area be set up as an appropriate cultural quarter. I want to see that concept of a cultural quarter located in the heart of the city, in an area which is celebrated by many as being quintessentially Dublin. We want an area that celebrates, commemorates and illustrates what it was like to be a volunteer of Cumann na mBan, Óglaigh na hÉireann or the Irish Citizen Army, or a member of Fianna Éireann, rushing jaded from the inferno that was the GPO that Friday in April 1916, a few long days after the Proclamation was first read aloud on O'Connell Street. It should show what it was like for the IRA garrison that ran up Henry Place with James Connolly on a stretcher, under constant fire, before breaking into No. 10 Moore Street, disturbing the residents and then starting to burrow all the way down the terrace. I cannot do justice in the few minutes I have to the atmosphere, tension and apprehension of all those long hours in Moore Street.
The historian Ray Bateson used survivors' own words in a beautifully-put-together bilingual book, Battle of Moore Street 1916 Cath Shráid Uí Mhórdha. It is published by Kilmainham Tales. He has captured all that for us. I urge those who have an interest to purchase a copy. It is a beautiful book and it is easily read.
How did it feel to be a volunteer in O'Hanlon's yard at 20-21 Moore Street while Tom Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, and Michael Collins tried to persuade the volunteers to stand down after the Army Council had met in 16 Moore Street and decided on the surrender? How did it feel to hear the persuasive calm quite comments from Seán Mac Diarmada when he outlined that only the leaders would be shot and that the ordinary volunteer would live to fight another day? "We, who will be shot, will die happy - knowing that there are still plenty of you around who will finish the job." That is a quote from the book. "All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born", as Yeats says in the poem Easter, 1916. How right he was. Many of the men and women gathered in that yard and in the houses of Moore Street at that time were to regroup, reorganise and learn from the week-long Republic as they began the next phase of the long fight for freedom after a few short months of incarceration in Frongoch internment camp.
Moore Street is not only about the Rising. It is, was and will be a street market and a living street with residents, shops, cafes and stalls. The Mercier Press book, Moore Street: The Story of Dublin's Market Districtby Barry Kennerk is an essential read for those who want to learn about the long history of the street, the market and its characters. When we think of Dublin we think of the street traders crying "Two for a penny", "Two for a pound" or, nowadays, "Two for a euro". I do not think "Two for a bitcoin" will really take off but one never knows and we will see in the future. Anyway, they are the phases associated with the history of the area. Those phases capture the breadth of the market for the 150 years it has been in place.
The intention of the Bill is to preserve the lanes and buildings of Moore Street. It is to restore the cobble lanes and the buildings to their former condition and then awaken the area again with life and make it a living museum.
The area of cultural and historical tourism is one of the fastest growing areas of tourism today. Many of us have been to other cities and enjoyed the historical experience. Through the use of modern technology, hologram, sound effects, lighting and graphics we would create such an experience from the now due-to-be-empty GPO all the way down the terrace of Moore Street. We should think of what could be achieved. It is to do with imagination and we need imagination. That is why I have been trying to ensure this proposal has been to the fore in all of our plans for that area. There could be small galleries, book shops, cafes, butchers, bakers, fruit stalls, flower shops, other stalls and tea shops. Let us think of the smells and sights that people get when they visit a French or other continental town or city where there is a fresh produce market. This is intertwined with all the other activities and life in general. That is what Moore Street could be rather than what has been planned over the years, whether a huge shopping mall or office blocks. We cannot stand idly by, to use a term from history, and watch as developers plan to destroy what is our architectural heritage. Once that heritage is gone, it is gone forever and no one can then recreate history in the way that we want to see it. That is not possible if there is a big block of apartments or offices on top of the area.
Is éard atá i gceist leis an gcomhlacht atá in ainm is a bheith curtha ar siúl ag an reachtaíocht seo ná go mbeadh muid cinnte de go mbeadh an bheocht athuair sa sráid seo, Sráid Uí Mhúraigh, agus go mbeadh stair, litríocht, ceol, rince agus ealaín ar siúl beagnach an t-am go léir, fite fuaite leis an ngnáth oibre atá ag tarlú ar an tsráid. B’fhéidir go mbeadh ceangal chomh maith le Cearnóg Parnell, áit atá músaem na scríbhneoirí, dánlann Hugh Lane agus ina mbeadh leabharlann na cathrach ann chomh maith. Thar na blianta, dúradh linn nach féidir leis seo tarlú agus gur chóir dúinn smaoineamh ar rud éigin eile.
Mar a dúirt Uachtarán Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá: "Is féidir linn" agus sa chás seo is léir gur féidir linn agus tá an deis againn é seo a dhéanamh anois in ainneoin gur le Comhlacht Hammerson a lán den tsráid seo. Tá an deis ag an Stát seasamh isteach agus a rá le Hammerson go bhfuilimid sásta talamh nó foirgneamh a bhabhtáil leis agus gur féidir leis más mian leis, de réir na rialacha pleanála i Sráid Uí Chonaill, é sin a dhéanamh ach ar an gcuid seo de chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath, an ceantar timpeall Sráid an Mhúraigh, go mbeidh an cheathrú chultúir seo i gceist leis.
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Visions have been created by various groups over the period of the campaign, the latest being from the Moore Street preservation trust, which includes some beautiful illustrations of what could be. Through these visions and approaches to a street in the heart of a European city, we could allow history and day-to-day life live hand in hand with each other. We have an opportunity to ensure that the street thrives and young and old people alike - tourists, Dubliners and people from outside Dublin - can go there and learn about the events of the last two days of the Rising in the city of Dublin as well as about life for the ordinary working Dubliners who have lived and worked on that street for more than 150 years.
I commend the Bill to the House. I urge Deputies to consider its intent and not only pass Second Stage today, but ensure that the Bill comes out the other end of the legislative process as quickly as possible and we act upon it so that the dereliction of Moore Street comes to an end and life begins once again for those who are trading or have shops there and for the general public who have to walk through it daily.
The Moore Street district is incredibly important to our revolutionary history, culture and heritage as a nation. It is a place that holds much pride for many across the Thirty-two Counties and many Irish across the globe. Moore Street is where five of the great leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising met for the last time. The district should long have been a national monument. That it was not is in many ways symbolic of the attitude of successive Governments to the ideals of Easter week and the legacy of the great leaders of that period. That it was even possible for a property consortium to acquire large tracts of land and buildings in the area with the intention of large-scale demolition and commercial construction is telling. That the developers enjoyed the connivance of Governments and city councils is shameful. To add insult to injury, when large parts of the property ended up in State ownership via the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, the State failed to recognise its previous failures and the sites were fire sold to another large British commercial shopping mall chain. The intention is for a large shopping centre to be built on this historic location. Thankfully, due to the diligent efforts of the relatives of the Rising's leaders as well as other campaigners, this obscenity has not yet come to pass.
Thanks to Deputy Ó Snodaigh's legislation, which I commend him for, the House can preserve and revitalise the historic 1916 Moore Street quarter and ensure that the State no longer allows this important part of our heritage to be dispensed for corporate greed. As such, this is an important opportunity that we should all grasp. We should always remember with pride those who fought and died for Irish freedom and independence. An Phoblacht abú. I commend the Bill to the House and urge all Deputies to support it.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on the Bill. I thank my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh, for bringing it forward.
Over the years, we have seen the history of Moore Street and the surrounding areas reduced to plaques in high places where eyes do not go. We have even seen Fine Gael Ministers in the courts on this issue, fighting the side of big business and private interests. The walking tours of Dublin bring the area to life now and again, but most of the time one would be forgiven for thinking it has stood as it is now since time began. It is as if it has been hidden away from the general public for decades. Today is the day to change that.
The families of those who died in the 1916 Rising have put forward a fantastic proposal that I believe needs to go ahead. What is needed is a proper cultural quarter, something which the public can flock to in order to learn about the history of the area. It is a history of which we can all be proud. There are economic benefits to the proposal too, all in the heart of this great city that is crying out for regeneration. The brave women and men who fought and died on Dublin streets against the might of the British Crown deserve their fight for Ireland to be immortalised and their names remembered and projected throughout this city and country forever more. The Bill would ensure the Minister recognises the importance of this area, something which previous Governments have lacked the conviction to do.
The argument for a cultural quarter could not be stronger. What better street for it than Moore Street, which is of such historical significance? Governments have previously delayed and frustrated proposals similar to those in the Bill. That needs to stop. There must be no more delays. The Government should do right by those who died during the Rising and give them the recognition they deserve.
I commend my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh, on bringing forward the Bill. It is the product of a long campaign by those concerned with our cultural and revolutionary heritage. The management and development of our heritage, culture and history cannot be left in the hands of private developers. To do so would be a catastrophe and, above all, a terrible indictment of how the State has failed to value that history. The Bill offers an opportunity to preserve the built heritage and create a truly cultural quarter where the leaders of the 1916 Rising fought, while also allowing for an economic boost, tourism and development that includes the community.
The Bill also provides a model for the preservation of other cultural areas and not just those in Dublin. Although most, if not all, of the Rising was concentrated in Dublin city centre, the events that followed were fought in cities, towns, villages and farmland across the State. I refer to my constituency of Longford-Westmeath. Longford was the most active county in Leinster, apart from Dublin, during the War of Independence, while volunteers in Westmeath acted in the most heavily militarised area in Ireland in terms of its proportion of population. The now-closed Columb Barracks in Mullingar could act as a hub for a similar development, given its history and location in the town. What is important is that these developments preserve the history of the region and are community-driven. Developments of the infrastructure could be undertaken in tandem with community wealth creation schemes and would create local jobs as well as providing national and local educational opportunities.
It is important to remember that we should commemorate all aspects of this revolutionary heritage. It was a time of profound struggle for suffrage, industrial labour rights, land reform and cultural, linguistic and literary revival. All of these movements shaped the Ireland that we know today and the movement for independence overlapped with them.
Many have been forgotten; more have been ignored. It is important that regeneration of our historical areas commemorate and recognise the totality of those events during these revolutionary times.
Moore Street must be preserved and there must be a viable future for it. This Bill would ensure that. This should be the start of a new policy direction which values our heritage and history, rather than continuing to ignore it.
"There should be no further commercial development work in the vicinity of this site or in the [Moore Street] area. The strongest way to secure that is to designate it as a historical quarter." These are fine words and as much as I would like to claim credit for them, I cannot. They are the words of current Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, in 2015. It is not often that I find myself in agreement with the Minister but he was on the money when he said that. I urge him to maintain that position in 2021.
As a child, I spent a lot of time in and around Moore Street. My late grandparents, Jim and May O'Hanlon, ran a tailors and dressmaking business in the inner city. I loved nothing more than experiencing the colour and culture of Moore Street. If old Dublin could speak, it would sound like Moore Street. There is something almost lyrical about an old Dublin brogue.
As I grew older, I became aware of the significance of Moore Street in the Easter Rising of 1916. As the flames spread across the roofs of the GPO, The O'Rahilly cleared the way for an escape route. He paid the ultimate sacrifice as he was shot and eventually died in Sackville Street at the side of Moore Street. Pearse, Connolly, Plunkett, Clarke, Seán McDermott and Willie Pearse held a council of war in No. 16 Moore Street. The decision was made to surrender to save the civilian lives and the lives of the rank and file of the Volunteers. They made that decision in the full knowledge that they would be shot by the Brits.
Late last year, an unscrupulous developer pulled down the ancestral home of The O'Rahilly in Herbert Park. This was cultural vandalism at its worst. We cannot allow this to happen to Moore Street.
As I said, there should be no further development work in the vicinity of Moore Street and if you do not believe me, ask the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien. I commend my colleague, Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh, for bringing this Bill to the floor of the Dáil and giving us this opportunity to restore and preserve Moore Street for generations to come.
I thank Deputy Ó Snodaigh for bringing forward this Bill. I know he has a deep passion for, and interest in, the future of Moore Street and the surrounding part of Dublin central, as we all do. I have listened carefully to what he has said. I share with him the same sense of the seminal importance of the 1916 Rising, its central place in the history of our State and of the importance of commemorating it and preserving the traces and memories that remain of the events that occurred at that time and of the men, women and children who were involved. I certainly felt a sense of place and poignancy as I stood in 14-17 Moore Street. It is an important place in our history.
None of this is lost on the Government which I believe can look back with justifiable pride and satisfaction at the wonderfully successful and highly inspirational programme of commemorative events that took place throughout 2016. That programme drew in communities from every corner of the country in unprecedented numbers to pay respectful tribute to the 1916 leaders and to the sacrifices they made on our behalf to gain for us our independence and right to self-determination.
Before I get into the detail of the Bill, I want to address briefly the suggestion that it is similar to an earlier Bill brought to the Seanad by the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, in 2015. The reality is that we are in an entirely different situation now compared to the one extant in Moore Street at that time. In 2015, plans to have the national monument at 14-17 Moore Street procured by Dublin City Council had fallen through and, with them, any prospect of the buildings being restored. The site surrounding the national monument was in the control of NAMA. There was also planning permission in place for an enclosed shopping arcade that could have led to significant architectural and structural interventions into the legibility of what remained of the Moore Street streetscape. If that development did not go ahead, the alternative was further urban decay, accompanied by increased anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, in 2015 what was in prospect was an inexorable loss of the history and heritage of the street along with its centuries old street trading traditions.
We are, however, in a much better space now. The national monument is owned by the State. It has been weathered and secured structurally, and there are plans to progress with the 1916 commemorative centre project. Funding is in place for that, on which I will comment further later.
The surrounding site has been acquired by a development company, which is engaging meaningfully with the Moore Street advisory group of which I will also say more anon. The development company has also unveiled the plans for its site which are very different in character from what was previously envisaged. It is soon to apply for planning permission for a mixed use development comprising family housing, retail and office units, along with public squares and open spaces. There will be extensive commemorative elements to show and pay tribute to the events and people of 1916 and a whole range of buildings previously in danger will be retained and restored.
With regard to the Bill introduced this morning, the Government fully appreciates the constructive motivation that brought it about and for that reason I will not be opposing it on Second Stage. Instead, I will be advocating that it should go to the relevant Oireachtas committee for further scrutiny and to examine what are evident drafting and legal issues; and to do so against the background of the imminent report of the Moore Street advisory group which is due to report to me shortly. I will clarify as I go along the importance of the report to the question of whether there is a case for the Bill to progress further.
No. 16 Moore Street is where the decision to surrender was made by the leaders of the 1916 Rising. Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street were declared a national monument in 2007 as the most authentic, complete and coherent collection of surviving pre-1916 buildings on Moore Street that have clear associations to the Rising. Each of the buildings has extensive original features, including plasterwork, partitions, staircases, doors, floors, fittings and fixtures. The 18th century building form and profiles also survive. Most significantly, there is also the evidence of the presence of the insurgents themselves in the form of the passageways they burrowed through from building to building during the final phase of the Rising. I had the privilege to see them myself.
Earlier proposals to secure the restoration of the national monument through a combination of funding from NAMA and a property exchange between Dublin City Council and the developer within the surrounding Dublin central development site did not materialise. The monument buildings were then acquired by the State from NAMA with a view to having them at least partially open to the public in time for the centenary of the Rising. Unfortunately, that was not possible due to the project being interrupted by protests and ultimately by a High Court judgment, which effectively stopped all works apart from essential preservation and stabilisation measures. That judgment was later overturned in its entirety by the Court of Appeal.
All this culminated in the establishment of the Moore Street advisory group which is now working and making progress on finding answers to the future regeneration of the Moore Street area in a way that reflects its history and culture and, most importantly, the events that played out there in the closing stages of the Rising. The Moore Street advisory group was established by the then Minister in May 2017 and its current membership includes Deputy Snodaigh, who is promoting this Bill, and Deputies Hourigan, Gannon and Bríd Smith. It also includes 1916 relatives' groups, city councillors and street traders. Its role is to represent and work with all stakeholders, including the owners of the site surrounding the State-owned national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. The idea is to broker regeneration solutions that can be supported by all concerned, solutions that will properly respect its part in the 1916 Rising, retain the traces that remain of those events and ensure that its street market tradition continues to have pride of place in a part of Dublin that is crying out for regeneration.
I have met the chair of the advisory group, Dr. Tom Collins, to whom the owners of the site that is largely encompassed by this Bill have recently presented their latest plans. I understand that the plans are seen as a welcome step change on what was previously in prospect and that they respond positively to the recommendations of the advisory group's previous report to the Minister in August 2019. I also understand that the developer has appointed a prestigious design team with international experience to draw up and finalise detailed development proposals for which planning permission will be sought in the near future. I should also mention that Transport Infrastructure Ireland has recently come into the picture and is working with the site owner to integrate the construction of an underground MetroLink station on Upper O'Connell Street that will connect Dublin Airport into the development. What is now being proposed will retain a greatly expanded range of buildings associated with the Rising, seek to facilitate and guarantee the future of the street traders, appropriately remember and commemorate the events of Easter 1916, provide almost 100 new residential units, build a new metro station and create more than 9,000 jobs. What is particularly welcome is the commitment to retain the fabric of a large number of buildings with historical significance, such as Conway's public house, Nos. 8 to 10 Moore Street, Nos. 20 and 21 Moore Street, O'Brien's Stables, O'Brien's Bottling Stores, and the potential artistic use of the White House site, along with a re-imagining of 10 Henry Place as a potential gallery.
In any context the prospect of all these jobs must be welcomed by all, but especially in the context of the economic and social challenges in the north inner city.
Once the report of the Moore Street advisory group is to hand, it can be reviewed alongside the Bill by the relevant committee, which is the Joint Committee for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The committee will also examine any potential policy, legal and financial issues contained in the Bill. These include the reliance on the judgment in the High Court case in 2016, which was later overturned. There are further issues, such as section 3 which obliges me, as Minister, to issue preservation orders over properties in the area because the Moore Street battlefield area is a national monument of extreme importance to the State. There is no provision in the National Monuments Acts for a preservation order to be issued for this reason. I will be asking the committee to thoroughly examine the Bill for those sort of instances and indeed to assess the extent to which there is justification for the Bill to advance further in light of what emerges from the Moore Street advisory group's report.
Deputies will be aware that, as I have previously mentioned, the national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street is now in the ownership of the Minister. Plans are well under way to ensure that the monument be refurbished as soon as possible. My Department was delighted to recently be in a position to announce funding of €121.3 million for Dublin’s north inner city under the urban regeneration and development fund. This significant investment will support the regeneration and redevelopment of several areas that have suffered from dereliction and decline over a long number of years.
It also includes the Moore Street national monument, which is earmarked for grant aid amounting to €12.7 million. This is a generational opportunity to protect the national monument and open it up to the public to resonate the mercantile, social and political heritage of the area as a 1916 commemorative quarter. Officials in my Department are in ongoing liaison with the OPW with a view to moving forward with the project, and I hope to see works commencing on this very soon.
In summary, and to finish, the Government intends not to oppose this Bill on Second Stage, on the grounds that, in line with Standing Order 95, it will be subject to scrutiny on financial, legal and policy matters by the Joint Committee for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Officials from my Department will be available to liaise with the committee throughout this process on issues associated with the Bill and also to appraise the committee of developments in regard to the Moore Street advisory group and its upcoming report to the Minister.
Indeed, should the recommendations of the advisory group chart a clear path for progress on the regeneration of the Moore Street area that enjoys the overall support of its membership, then it may very well be the case that Deputy Ó Snodaigh and his party will find it unnecessary for the Bill to progress any further.
I am honoured to speak in support of the Bill introduced by my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh. I compliment the work that has been put into the Bill by the 1916 relatives' group, whose commitment to saving Moore Street and preserving our history has never wavered.
One can travel to almost any nation across the world and see the value and respect they put on sites that played a significant role in the shaping of their nationhood, whether it is Gettysburg in the USA, Flanders in Belgium or Brest Fortress in Belarus. Moore Street and the laneways surrounding it are no different to those aforementioned battlefields. Moore Street holds significant importance in the birth of our nation and revolutionary history. This battlefield must be preserved as a national monument and as a living museum would safeguard our history for the generations to come.
The Bill creates many more opportunities than simply listing Moore Street as a national monument. It will develop Moore Street into a cultural quarter. It will give the community within the inner city an opportunity to regenerate and develop into a living city with sustainability, history and culture at its heart.
When I think of the long battle to save Moore Street, I always think of The O'Rahilly who, after leading a charge of Moore Street, was mortally wounded by several bullets. He wrote a note to his darling Nancy as he lay dying. It finished simply saying, "It was a good fight anyhow". As we approach the 105th anniversary of the Easter Rising, we are still here fighting to protect Moore Street and give it the value and respect of which it is worthy.
Our history, heritage and culture cannot be left in the hands of private developers. It is too important and valuable.
We do not want a repeat of what happened at The O'Rahilly house in Herbert Park. We do not want a repeat of this cultural vandalism.
We are being given a once in a generation opportunity to preserve what is one of the most important historical sites of modern Irish history. For too long in our recent past, bad planning, disastrous development decisions and a disregard for our heritage lost us forever the Viking site at Wood Quay, the Georgian facades of St. Stephen's Green, the Metropolitan Theatre, and more recently the criminal destruction of the home of the 1916 leader The O’Rahilly. We have to learn from the mistakes of the past and not replicate them in the present. The decisions that must be made on this historic quarter must not be left to the vagaries of developers or speculators, whose only concern is profit. This is a site that even the National Museum of Ireland described as the most important historic site in modern Irish history. It is an area rich in the history of the Rising. After a week of shelling, fighting and fire at the GPO, the garrison fought its way to the houses on Moore Street, where the final acts of the Rising were played out and the decision to end the Rising was made. Each house on the Moore Street terrace has its own historical significance, not least, No. 16, the site of the last headquarters of the Provisional Government.
We have in this Bill a great opportunity to develop a historical and cultural quarter that would include a living museum that would recreate the historical events of the area and provide visitors with a practical interpretation of the Rising. There would be an economic and tourism bonus from the development of such a quarter and an opportunity for regeneration of the historic Moore Street market.
I have a very personal interest in all of this, as both my grandfathers were out in 1916. One fought with Pearse and Connolly in the GPO and the other with Markievicz and Mallin in the College of Surgeons. I have historical artefacts and medals connected with the Rising that have been passed down through my family and I could see no better home for them than in a museum situated on this battlefield site. This Bill and its proposals ends the uncertainty around the development of the site and raises it from its current state of ruin and decay to an area that is both revitalised and renewed, and also serves as a living memorial to the men and women of the Rising.
I am proud to have the opportunity to support my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh’s Bill. It supports the 1916 relatives’ regeneration plan to create a cultural quarter around Moore Street and will preserve the built heritage of the street. The Bill does three key things: it gives legal recognition to a Moore Street cultural quarter; protects the built heritage of Moore Street from destruction; and will regenerate the local area to boost tourism and footfall.
Of particular importance is the establishment of a permanent outdoor market, which will preserve the Moore Street market, which has been trading at the site since the 1850s. Hammerson, a British shopping centre owner, was virtually gifted the site by NAMA. It is worth noting that Hammerson’s Irish branch is run by a former NAMA employee. We expect that a planning application for a shopping centre and office development will be submitted next month. It would be frankly obscene for us to hand over a national monument to private interests that will destroy our heritage and will not benefit the local community.
If we develop a modern historical quarter we preserve our history, language and culture, and put those values at the centre of the regeneration of the north inner city. A project of this kind will give an enormous boost to tourism in the city, in a way that also benefits the local community which has suffered due to decades of neglect by successive Governments. I am confident that the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, will support this Bill because it is very similar to a Bill he introduced himself in 2015.
At that time, he said that we needed to designate the site as an historical quarter to protect it from any further commercial development work in the vicinity of the site. The Minister was correct when he said that, but he has a track record when it comes to saying one thing in opposition and then another as Minister. I hope, though, for the sake of our patriot dead that he sticks to his guns on this issue. This is important for all of us. The battlefield area was recognised as a national monument by the High Court in 2016 and the National Museum of Ireland has defined Moore Street as the most important street in Ireland for historical reasons. It must be preserved for the benefit of everyone. Turning it into a shopping centre and offices would be historical vandalism and it must be stopped at all costs.
Successive Governments and local authorities have appalling records of preserving our heritage. From Georgian Dublin to the cottages of the west, we are more than happy to allow developers to buy up whatever artefacts of our history they like and then tear them down with JCBs. We saw that most recently with the house of The O'Rahilly, which pulled down to make way for a hotel. Will we see the same happen with the Markievicz cottage in Sandyford? Will that other link to 1916 be demolished and turned into a modern bungalow?
It is not just the houses of the 1916 leaders or the big houses down the country that need protecting, although too many of those have been allowed to fall into wrack and ruin. With our careless disregard for our past, we are allowing the snapshots of how ordinary Irish people lived and worked to vanish. If this Government had its way, Ireland would be nothing more than steel and glass, sterile and cold.
Dublin is a modern city and its people are its heart, but every year it becomes a little more modern and a little less vibrant. We must preserve the built heritage of Moore Street, where the 1916 volunteers fought and died in their last stand, and protect it from destruction. We go beyond that as well, however. We must cherish what is left of our heritage before it is replaced by shopping centres, hotels and offices. We need not trade one for the other, but always to strive to incorporate those links to the past into our everyday environment. People should not have to visit a museum to have to get a snapshot of our history and our culture. It should surround us every day in our daily lives and inform us as we go along.
The proposed cultural quarter for Moore Street should be a roadmap for how we can preserve what brought us to the present, lest we forget of course where we came from. I commend the Bill, and I look forward to other Members supporting it. However, it is not just about supporting the Bill; we must move on this issue and preserve this site.
I am delighted to contribute to the debate on this important Bill. I commend Sinn Féin on bringing it to the House, I commend the now Minister for bringing a similar Bill before the Seanad six years ago and I also welcome the Minister of State saying the Government will not oppose the Bill on this Stage. Ultimately, everyone wants to get to the same place on this issue. As a Dub, it is hard to not feel connected to Moore Street as a historical, cultural, social and economic space. While I would like to remove tribalism from any debate on this issue, it is hard as a northside Dub not to be a bit tribal about this topic because Moore Street is so vibrant and special. Throughout my life, many trips with my family and friends into town from Finglas involved getting off the bus and going through the gateway of Moore Street into Henry Street.
Preserving our history and culture is vitally important. However, we must also protect the workers and street traders on Moore Street now. This Bill covers that aspect as well. We cannot forget those workers and traders because they have been kicked around as political footballs for many years. People have poured honey into their ears by saying how much they love the Moore Street traders, but where has the support for them been in respect of infrastructure such as bathroom facilities where they could wash their hands, for example? Nothing like that has been provided by Dublin City Council over the years for these traders, whom we all say and know are so important to the vibrancy of this part of Dublin and who make it distinct and different and a wonderful place to be.
They need to be supported and be at the centre of any development that will take place.
The only issue I have with the Bill, which is more of a gut reaction than anything else, is the word "quarter", although I think that comes from other parts of Dublin being labelled as quarters. I suppose it fits for the place in question, given the geography and shape of it. The area from the GPO through O'Connell Street and Moore Street and up to Parnell Square, a square that has also been earmarked as an area for cultural development, has been given zero attention for many decades. It is an area of great importance, as has been set out by previous speakers. We could spend hours talking about how important this area was in the 1916 Rising and for our patriot dead, such as the meetings that took place in the old Rotunda building. Everything took place here. It should the cultural, historical and social focal point of Dublin but it has never been given that position.
The Bill will help to put it there. The work that Dublin City Council and its councillors are doing should help to put it there and we all need to support this goal. It is a complex area of history. The great work of Dublin historians such as Éamonn Mac Thomáis or, more contemporaneously, Donal Fallon with his walking tours, wonderfully captures the intertwined histories of the traders, over the course of 200 years, the Rising and the battlefield, in this world that has been dominated by capitalism. Now there is a group that is seeking to build a shopping centre that will be entered from the O'Connell Street side. There is a huge battle against that, not just to preserve it but also to build and develop its cultural heritage and significance, which we need to do.
My party, on Dublin City Council in the early 2000s through motions tabled by Councillor Dermot Lacey, ensured that 16 Moore Street was declared a protected structure. When very few people on Dublin City Council were paying the issue any attention, we ensured that this was captured for us in order that we could be in this position now to move forward. Everyone wants to get to where we need to go. We want the Moore Street traders there but we want them to be protected, valued and looked after. We want Moore Street to be preserved and developed as a proper cultural and historical site that pays due respect to the 1916 Rising and everything that took place there, which was fundamentally important to the birth of our State. We want it to feed in to what will happen in Parnell Square too. The area from O'Connell Street to Parnell Square can no longer remain deemed by many to be unsafe, underappreciated or under-resourced. It needs to be put front and centre in the development of Dublin city. It is a significant area of cultural and historical significance, and the Moore Street quarter that is referenced in the Bill is a huge part of that.
Given the Minister of State's history on this issue and his own presentation of a Bill, and given that everyone who has spoken thus far, including on the Government side and I am sure everyone who will speak after me, is looking to achieve the same goal, there is no reason we should not be able to move forward. The work of the Moore Street advisory group, in tandem with what is going on in Dublin City Council, such as A vision of hope for Moore Street Market, the report presented to the council last month, to my eye has an awful lot of good aspects. How all these various actors and stakeholders interact with one another in the short term will be vital to where we ultimately go. The dereliction of Moore Street over the decades should be, and is, a cause for national shame.
We cannot be here in ten or 20 years' time, or even further on, having the same debates about this important area in our capital city and this important part of the story of Ireland and our State. Everyone talks about the sensitivity of the decade of commemorations through which we are living. As a State, we are ultimately handling this quite well across all sides. Let us continue to do so with Moore Street. I commend Deputy Ó Snodaigh for bringing this before the House. I hope we can all work collaboratively to deliver a Moore Street that pays due respect to our history while also looking forward and protecting what is vibrant and great about this part of our great city of Dublin.
The Social Democrats, including myself, will be very enthusiastically supporting this Bill. I will be doing so on a number of fronts. I am a representative of the constituency. I grew up in the north inner city. I am the son of a Dublin street trader, albeit a Henry Street trader rather than a Moore Street trader - there is a difference. I commend Sinn Féin on introducing this Bill and I commend Deputy Ó Snodaigh not only on bringing it forward today but on the work he has done over decades with regard to preserving revolutionary history, preservation for which he has advocated both in his role as a Deputy and as an activist.
Moore Street represents something extraordinary in this city. It has been said already that if one were to hear the old voice of Ireland, it probably would be what one hears on Moore Street today, but for me it is a little bit different. Moore Street represents a fusion of old Dublin and old Ireland and the new Ireland. Street traders who have carried on their trade there for generations now mix with the new communities that have joined and enhanced us over recent decades. That is what Moore Street represents today but it is underloved by the State and the city council. What has emerged is really interesting. It is a fusion of new communities and old communities which just get on and support one another. While we absolutely support the preservation of the history of the site, we also want to acknowledge what the area is today.
I really believe it is a fantastic Bill. I read it and went through it yesterday and I like the fact that it acknowledges the work the current Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage did and holds him to account for his words. We should be always held accountable for what we say in opposition. If we suggest something in opposition, we should implement it when we have the opportunity to do so.
One aspect of the Bill which I find exciting is that it lays out a vision for the city and for an important part of it which is in decline. I spent six years on the city council and I have very rarely seen that level of ambition. A conversation was already emerging before Covid but it has accelerated since. It is about what the centre of our capital city will be over the next five years or the next decade. I can say what it will not be. It will not be a place just for shopping centres, shops and all of those other things in which we have invested over recent years when we gave ourselves over to consumerism and capitalism. That view was already in decline. Long before Covid emerged, the city centre was losing commercial footfall to shopping centres along the M50. People were also already starting to shop online. This means that, if we want to enhance our capital city, we will have to look somewhere different. The answer is very obvious; we must look to our culture, to our history and to the presentation of ourselves. I refer to what we present to the people of the world when we invite them here to show what it means to be Irish. These are the very things that will save us. This cultural quarter will be part of that.
As has been already demonstrated, this can be also connected to the Parnell Street developments. If we look around the city, we see that Croke Park is a stone's throw away, as is the Abbey Theatre. All of these really important cultural components of our city are contained within a very small area. If the city council will not do it, the Parliament has a responsibility to step in and protect this area.
I am very conscious, when speaking about our revolutionary history, that it is complex. I do not seek to lecture anybody on the history of this country because there are so many people in and around this Chamber who know it and understand it better than I do. It is a complex history. When we talk about our revolutionary past, we should not seek to speak only about the parts where we are valiant or when we stood in opposition to the British.
We should also acknowledge that it is difficult and we should not shy away from those aspects of our history. As we are protecting these battlefield sites, let us also acknowledge the more thorough societal history around them.
When one learns about the history of 1916, one cannot help but be in awe of the sacrifice, courage and bravery of those involved. I remember being in school and hearing that when the rebels were being led out, some people were throwing fruit at them because those people did not support the rebels at the time. That fascinated me and I could not understand why that would happen. Then as one develops and takes a broader interest in history through historians such as Myles Dungan, one hears that these were separation women whose husbands had been locked out during the Lock-out of 1913 and had to go off and fight in the First World War. They were terrified of what that moment would have meant for them with the loss of their incomes as it would probably have led to them facing hunger or their husbands, on the front line or wherever they may have been, facing further victimisation on top of what they were already facing.
There are complex histories and narratives that are important when we talk about our revolutionary past. The communities around it, including the civilian deaths from the bombings and gunshots, are also important. It is important to talk about the revolutionary parts of our history that not only started in 1916 but that were accelerated from then on moving into the War of Independence. While I love the majesty of the Proclamation of independence as presented in 1916, the document that stands out for me during that revolutionary period is the Democratic Programme of 1919, which for the first time enshrined civic and economic rights. That moved on to the counter-revolution when that document was described as being largely poetry, and that included the Civil War, and we have not discussed in any great detail what that meant for us. The Civil War will be another complex conversation we will have to have in the coming years.
All of those histories, both the good and the bad, need to be captured as we preserve these battlefield sites. It is massively important that we do so, and the ultimate question is what did independence mean for the average person on the street? As we engage in that question, it will incorporate conversations about how we handed control over to the church and all of the hideous things that came from that, including the Magdalen laundries, institutions and asylums. All of those things must be included when we have a true narrative of our history.
I want to talk about what Moore Street and the market represent today. There is a vital role for one particular group that has not been mentioned, which I am sure is not an omission and which I am sure we can include in the document. The reason there is still a market in operation on Moore Street today or when we open back up is because of the role the new communities have played in preserving them.
I note that the document of the former Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government from a couple of years ago that is also contained here mentions there will be no more commercial development on the site. I understand what is being referred to, namely, large multinational shopping centres coming in. The commercial development that has happened there in the past decade has been carried out by our new communities in opening up small little shops, bringing new types of vegetables onto the street which we had probably not seen in Ireland previously, and merging that with the old and the new. That contribution from those new communities equally needs to be protected.
If there is a vision for Moore Street that requires a new and beautiful market, those communities need to be central to that. The idea of a market is important. When we are bringing people into this city in the future, it will not be for shopping centres. Shopping centres are well catered for all over the M50 and that is where people will drive to, but when we are bringing people into the city, it will be for amenities such as a market, and that market, as laid out in this proposal by Sinn Féin, has the potential to be really vibrant and different. It could be something that people will come into the city to experience. When we do it, we need to work with traders to diversify their stock and we need to fuse in the new communities and their cultures. If we get that right and if we capture that history and the contemporary aspect of the street, then there will be a vision for this city that is exciting and that has not existed before.
One of the conversations we have not had is on the failure of Dublin City Council to present, preserve and enhance these important streets within our capital city, and Moore Street is probably most prominent in that. That is a failure of leadership and we need to discuss why that failure of leadership continues to happen.
That is no reflection on the councillors who do astounding work with very limited powers. It is a reflection on the structure of how we give power to unelected bureaucrats who never need to lay out a vision or be accountable for it. That is one aspect which has left streets like Moore Street in decline.
I commend Sinn Féin on bringing the Bill before the Parliament. We will support it and we welcome that the Government will not oppose it. We hope to continue to partake in the discussion as it develops. This is an exciting vision for the city, which will help us better understand ourselves and better project ourselves not only nationally but on a global stage. This is the vision of Ireland that will bring people here and help protect our city.
Déanaim comhghairdeas le Sinn Féin on introducing the Bill. I welcome that it is not being opposed and will be allowed to progress. I have not heard all the debate and do not want to repeat what others have said. It is important to recognise the relevance of the monument. The space between the GPO and Moore Street is very significant in our history - the history of struggle in this country to rid ourselves of British imperialism. Those most associated with it were the heroes of 1916.
For me, one of the greatest heroes among them was James Connolly. The relevance of his role in the Rising should stand out on its own. Connolly did not actually come from a nationalist tradition. He came from a socialist tradition but saw the relevance of joining those who were willing to fight to strike at the heart of the British Empire. This was done in the middle of one of the worst carnages on a global scale, the First World War. We should not forget that in 1916 the First World War was raging. In the words of a famous poem, "Dublin's broken union men die first in Flanders fields" because many of them after the Lockout could not get any other work, fled into the ranks of the British Army and were killed at the Somme, Flanders and the other famous horrible battle sites.
Connolly stood out among the international socialists as somebody who absolutely opposed the First World War. There was major pressure on socialists and people who are engaged in international fightback at the time to endorse the war as a way of protecting what were then called the small nations, such as Belgium. That was the spin put on it by the British Empire. Connolly, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were among a handful of socialists who stood up, condemned the war and declared their opposition to it. That is very relevant to this battle site because the role of James Connolly in an international historical context cannot be forgotten.
It should also be noted that after the Rising many of the auxiliaries and the officers who fought the volunteers at the GPO and elsewhere across the city were then moved off to Palestine to carry out the British divide and conquer there; we can see the bitter fruits of where all that has left us today.
The British Empire was an empire in which it was said the sun never set, but it was also said that on it the blood never dried, which is very true. We can see the connections between the Rising in Dublin and its consequences across the empire where revolts in India and some countries in Africa and in the Middle East against the British Empire were inspired by the handful of brave men and women who stood up against the might of this imperialist force in 1916. That is a very important international lesson that we should remember. We should also remember the lessons from one group of colonial repressed people rising up against their oppressor were learned without the benefit of television, Facebook, Twitter are any of the modern connectivity that we have, but connectivity was nevertheless there.
Famously, Lenin wrote about the Rising in Dublin and put it up to the rest of the international socialist movement that James Connolly absolutely did the right thing by throwing in his lot with the nationalists and striking a blow against the British Empire in the middle of the First World War.
For me, that is an aspect of the history that it is not only important to remember, but should also attract people to this site once we have it in our grasp and treat it properly as a national monument.
I would like now to focus on what is in the Bill and how, possibly, it could be amended. I refer to the idea of a living city. A city is not alive without people living in it. Paris, Berlin, Brussels and many of the other wonderful European cities that have cultural quarters also have populations living in them. We, unfortunately, do not have people, or at least enough people, living in places such as Moore Street and the quarter surrounding it. We should be pushing for public housing in this area such that we can take people off the housing list and bring them back to live in the heart of the city where many of them have come from. At the time the Rising took place, it was a living city, but that is not the case now.
Others have mentioned the relevance of the market and the Moore Street traders. Clearly, they are very much part of the future and they cannot be forgotten about, but the other communities that I believe we should factor into whatever plans we have are the new communities that have kept Moore Street going. Moore Street would have collapsed long ago through neglect were it not for the Chinese, African and Indian shops and restaurants built up there. They have kept that street alive, enhanced it and made it more multicultural, vibrant and interconnected than ever before. There has to be a special place for the new communities in the campaign to create this quarter.
The campaign to reclaim Moore Street was important because it was neglected by the city council. When I was a councillor people such as James Connolly Heron, the Moore Street traders and others were constantly lobbying councillors to try to get something done to reclaim Moore Street and to not let the developers flatten it and change its character entirely. At one stage, councillors were brought on a walking tour from the GPO through the back alleyways while it was explained to us how the escape from the GPO took place and where they took refuge before the surrender. We were then brought into the houses to see how the walls had been blown through from one house to another in an attempt to escape. That campaign is to be commended. We would not be here today were it not for people resisting the agenda of the developers and the neglect of the godfathers of this city, namely, those who run the city council. They have neglected the city badly in many ways. It is down to ordinary people that it was preserved.
My final comment relates to the company that the Bill proposes to establish. At all costs, we should avoid - this may have been referenced earlier and I missed it - this company turning into a replica of the Temple Bar Investment Trust. We cannot allow that. We need something that will be about people, history and culture, not stag parties and people drinking to all hours of the night and taking away from the dignity of the area. It has to be open and accountable in terms of the culture and the history, remain that way and not be seen as a means of topping of the profits of the drinks and entertainment industry across this city. I look forward to the debate around it and to making a positive contribution to it.
Go raibh maith agat do Sinn Féin agus molaim an Bille don Teach.
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. Given that it is about Moore Street in Dublin, one might wonder why a Deputy from Galway would be concerned about it, but it signals what we need to do with many of our buildings around this country that have gone into dereliction because we do not have the means or the courage to maintain them and bring them back into use. It is important Moore Street is blended into a modern Ireland. We must ensure we bring life back into that part of the city, a life that complements the history of that particular site.
The recently published Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland report shows that more than 70% of the space over retail units in Dublin is vacant.
That space is there to be utilised and brought back to life in order that people can live there and have a living city. The reason it is not being used is that there are huge issues around trying to match up the heritage and archaeological aspects of the sites with the requirements of making them viable for people to live there. We have a challenge in this regard and it is one that arises throughout the country. In my own constituency, there are public buildings that are completely derelict because we do not have the appetite or the funding to bring them back into use. It is a shame that is not being done because it would unlock huge potential in terms of having places of interest in the places where people are living and working and ensuring we have vibrant societies in towns and cities throughout the country.
Moore Street is probably the best example of where we have, in effect, been paralysed in our thinking about how we can maintain our heritage and history and, at the same time, bring it back into use. We need to set a template by which local authorities, councillors and policymakers can provide the funding to ensure we get the full potential from all the sites throughout the country, rather than just tipping around the edges with them. This is a fine example of where we need to have new and fresh thinking. This Bill is a platform by which we can do that and I commend Sinn Féin on bringing it forward. It starts the debate that is needed to ensure local authorities know what they need to do to realise the full potential of these sites.
Every place in this country has history. It is in our fields, towns and villages, but it is locked up in dereliction and nobody goes near it. It is a shame. Abbeyknockmoy in Galway is the location of one of the best-kept abbeys in Europe. It is a beautiful place but nobody goes there. It should be a beacon of light for tourism in north Galway. There is also Tuam, which was the capital of Ireland at one stage and the place from which the O'Connors ruled the country. It is an archdiocese with huge historic buildings but they are not being used properly because there is a conflict between their preservation and their use. We cannot just put a lock around them and say that nobody can go into them. We need to embrace the potential of the assets we have and bring them back into use as quickly as possible while retaining their cultural and heritage value. We will all benefit from that into the future.
Moore Street is the battle place and the birthplace of the Irish Republic. The lanes that surround Moore Street record the heroism and actions of the people who were out in 1916. The Moore Street battlefield site was the location of the final stand of many of the Volunteers who fought in the GPO. They came under heavy machine gun fire in the laneways around Moore Street as they set up the headquarters of the 1916 provisional government and the final council of war. Those actions were the precursor to the independent State of today and the precursor, we hope, to the independence of the North of Ireland some sunny day soon.
The freedoms we have in this State today are a direct result of the heroism of the men and women who fought on that battlefield site. I ask the Ministers who hold office today to think about the fact they do so in large part because of the actions of the men and women of 1916 on this particular site. What is the result of holding office when it comes to the Moore Street battlefield site? After ten years of Fine Gael in government, the most important battlefield site of the Republic is shrouded in grime and dereliction. It is a place where people urinate and defecate and where traders are assaulted. More than 100 years after the 1916 Rising, this battlefield site, the birthplace of the Republic, is an absolutely derelict site. After all the talking, Bills and forums, it is an outdoor toilet.
That is an absolutely shocking dereliction of duty when it comes to our heritage as a people, country and nation. It is a shocking dereliction of duty in terms of the responsibilities we owe to the traders who operate on that site. This dereliction of duty shows the priorities of the Government. I have been on some of those groups, committees and forums and I have listened to the Dáil debates on this issue. The net result of the ten years of work on Moore Street is dereliction. It has been allowed to die a slow death. That should not be the case because the Moore Street site presents a serious opportunity. It could be an engine of renewal in the north inner city. It could be a cultural hub that breathes new life into the area west of O'Connell Street. It could be where the historical, cultural, Irish language and commercial interests of this country can operate successfully side by side. A rejuvenated Moore Street could rival the great outdoor markets that are seen in other European cities.
Instead, it is a derelict site because of Fine Gael's inaction over the past ten years. The Government is paralysed, waiting for Hammerson, which owned much of the battlefield site, to act. The Government's strategy, like the strategy of the previous Government, is to defer to the commercial interests of the vulture funds that have owned this site. The Government has given primacy to the commercial interests of large property companies at the cost of Ireland's heritage. This battlefield site is now the site of another battle between large international property owners and the citizens' and relatives' groups that are battling to keep the site as part of Ireland's valuable heritage. On which side is the Government in this battle? On which side are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party? Fine Gael has stood with the property interests against the heritage of Ireland for many a long year. Anybody who wants another example of this simply has to look at what happened to The O'Rahilly house in the past six months. Despite my warnings to the Government, it was allowed to be demolished.
Where does Fianna Fáil stand on this? It stands in different places depending on the weather and whether it is in government. The Bill we are discussing today is largely based on one brought forward by the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, which he quickly dropped as soon as he got a ministerial seat under his rear end. It is an incredible situation that Fianna Fáil will say one thing in government but be a different party when in opposition.
The deferral to Hammerson's plan is a massive mistake. It was reported in the newspapers just this week that Hammerson is in serious financial trouble, posting a €1.7 billion loss for 2020. The company gave a formal warning regarding its ability to continue as a going concern. The Government has put all its eggs in the Hammerson basket in regard to the rejuvenation of Moore Street, but this is a property company that may not be able to make it to the end of the year.
Why is the Government waiting to act? The State already owns a large number of buildings on the street. We could be rejuvenating the parts of the street that the State already owns. We could have a museum there and begin breathing new life into the street. We in Aontú have already introduced a Bill with proposals for Moore Street and we have campaigned strongly for the heritage of this country to be given the value to which it is entitled. Unfortunately, our efforts have been landing on deaf ears to date.
I am sharing time with Deputies Michael Collins, Danny Healy-Rae and Nolan. Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá ar an mBille seo. I compliment Deputy Ó Snodaigh and Sinn Féin on bringing forward this important Private Members' Bill. Unfortunately, we are seeing the typical political stances taken by the main parties, especially Fianna Fáil. I note from research that the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, when he was a Seanadóir, brought forward a Bill on which the legislation we are discussing today was modelled. As the last speaker said, it is amazing that when one get's one's bundún into the nice surroundings of a ministerial car, one can forget one's principles and ideals.
The person can forget our heritage and the significance of what the people did to give us the freedom to be able to rent this dastardly place - it is so big and expensive - to sit here during the pandemic.
It is vital that we preserve our heritage and have those people recognised. While I am at it, I hope the Acting Chairman will allow me to mention the great Seán Ó Treasaigh, who lost his life on Talbot Street. A person would have to look with a magnifying glass to find the plaque on the wall. It seems we cannot have a proper and fitting monument in a place off our main thoroughfare to salute the heroic sacrifice that Seán Ó Treasaigh made with many others and the gallant way he fought for our freedom. The plaque is not even clean. A stranger would not see it if he walked down the street as it is up high on the wall and barely visible. It is a shame that we get such little recognition of our patriots.
The creation of a cultural quarter for the inner city to boost tourism and increase footfall to the local economy of the area is an excellent idea. We cannot have the country plundered and literally raped by developers for their own profits. We need to have cultural quarters. We need to have areas like this preserved, protected and maintained. We need a living city for our famous and renowned song, dance and poetry agus stair. We see today the impact on our heritage with the practice in any village of a fete being banned. We are one of only three countries in the world in this position. Saudi Arabia and North Korea are the others. My goodness, I did not think we would be trampling to get to the top of that line.
We need to recognise where we came from with regard to our rich heritage. We need to have it. It is great to have historians to write about it but we need to have living memory.
This is an excellent Bill by Deputy Ó Snodaigh. I do not know what position the Government is taking on it but I would not be surprised either way. As someone said, there is a different position every day depending on the weather forecast and what way the wind is blowing. The Rural Independent Group supports this legislation wholeheartedly.
I took a stroll outside two weeks ago with Deputy Collins. We went down the back near Sheriff Street. We saw the residents down there. They are living people. I am not talking about history and heritage - they are living. They have been swallowed up by greed, developers, hotels, and apartments. Their lives have been ruined. When they saw us walking, they knocked on windows and asked whether we would wait and talk to them. I spoke to a lovely gentleman. He explained that he got little support from any political party when it came to stopping the madness that went on with houses. We are in the country and we try to get planning for a house but there may be problems if a development is overshadowing another house or if it is in any way affecting the views. These people have been swallowed up. We expect them to live in those conditions. It is a scandal and should not be happening so we are supporting this legislation.
I support the Bill as well. The UK property group, Hammerson, owns a six-acre site stretching from O'Connell Street to Moore Street and Parnell Street. It is to seek planning permission next month that will involve knocking down buildings and changing the streets. I am in full agreement with the measure in the Bill to put a preservation order on the terrace and curtilage of the premises from 10 to 25 Moore Street.
While speaking about history I would like to mention my area of Lowertown, Schull and the Michael John McLean memorial. Michael John lost his life 100 years ago in December in Gaggan, Bandon. I am delighted to have played a part in remembering Michael John on 8 December last. There was a hard-working committee comprising Michael Bambrick, Tim Bannon, Colin O'Driscoll, Bernard O'Sullivan and Gráinne Wilson who have worked on the surrounding of the McLean memorial in Lowertown. We need to protect and respect our culture and areas.
I am keen to speak about the fine museum and memorial gardens in west Cork, including the Michael Collins Centre between Ballinascarthy and Timoleague run by the Crowley family. This museum has never received a cent in State funding but it is one of the finest dedicated to Michael Collins in Ireland. My thanks to the Crowley family, who are relations of the late General Michael Collins. This is surely is one of the greatest historical museums in the country and we could well do with supporting it not only by visiting it but with State recognition for the people as well.
The Kilbrittain memorial committee built a memorial garden in 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of people in the area who died at that time. The parish lost the most people in the sense that eight local people out of 800 in the parish lost their lives more than 100 years ago. The committee intends to erect a bronze statue of Charlie Hurley, the officer commanding the west Cork brigade. The committee is seeking funding for the statue. A modest amount from the State would make such a difference for groups who want to commemorate those heroic days. It is time for this country to stop talking and start funding these vital community commemorations. We should remember that west Cork played a most active part in Ireland in 1916. Throughout west Cork there was equally strong committed work done by the membership of Cumman na mBan. We should remember that the War of Independence would never have been the success it was but for the work and suffering of these great women. Many were imprisoned and went on hunger strike during the Civil War.
We should also give great credit to voluntary organisations like the Crossbarry community action group, whose commemoration has been moved from this year to next year, like so many others, due to the pandemic. The Battle of Crossbarry was the turning point in the War of Independence. It was led by Tom Barry and during the battle the great Charlie Hurley lost his life. I know Joe Croke, Marie Murphy, Leo Flynn, Maureen Bohan and others are working towards that commemoration. Credit needs to go to these people. I mentioned Joe Croke. He is also involved in the Lowertown committee so he is an all-round type of person.
I genuinely support this Bill. It is something I have heard Deputies speaking on for a long time. I agree that a preservation order should be put in place where Moore Street is concerned.
I am glad to get the opportunity to talk on this important Bill. I thank Deputy Ó Snodaigh and Sinn Féin for giving us the opportunity.
I recognise and appreciate what the men and women in Moore Street did more than 100 years ago to secure our freedom. We are all joined here, regardless of the political party to which we are affiliated or otherwise, to appreciate those people who fought and gave their lives for our freedom. There are places in Kerry where people fought. The people involved included men and women from Cumman na mBan. There were men like Tadhg Coffey and his gallant group who fought at the Countess Bridge in Killarney. There were the men at Ballyseedy. Stephen Fuller was the only one to survive. They were all tied together. Then a bomb was put into the middle of them by the English and they were blown sky-high. Stephen Fuller survived. Then the local flying column took on the English at Headford. But for the train coming sooner than it should have from the fair in Kenmare, they would have done more or sorted out more of the English soldiers that day. However, they did kill eight. Two volunteers, Allman and Bailey, lost their lives after they were shot. Others involved included men like Johnny O'Connor, who became a Deputy, Michael Doherty from Lisnagrave, Tom 'Scarteen' O'Connor from Kenmare, Captain Flynn, Pat Shea and Tommy Mac from Ballymacelligott. I want to thank the local commemoration committee, including Derry Healy, Jimmy Kelly, Seamas Moynihan, Michael Scannell and Tina Healy from Rockfield. Her grandfather was Dan Healy from Rockfield. He was in the fight on that day of 21 March. Tim Horgan and Liz Spillane, a local girl, were involved too. I knew Dan Patsy O'Sullivan from Kilgarvan who was there. He lived to be old and I was glad to have known him while he was alive. I appreciate very much what he and his companions did. There were 39 of them there on that day. They had a major victory. It put the English in their place and put them thinking. They were never the same or as strong after losing that battle at Headford.
I really appreciate the freedom that they gave for us in that major fight. Everyone here has to appreciate those people and understand what they went through. There was torture and torment. Some of them were tortured and went through a major ordeal to secure our freedom. I support the Bill. It is important that Moore Street stays the same as it is. We have to remember the people - the men and women - who fought there.
I thank the Acting Chairman for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I will start by paying tribute to Deputy Ó Snodaigh for introducing this important Bill. Interestingly, the Government is using the usual tactic of accepting the Bill on Second Stage and sending it towards Committee Stage where it will probably stay and die a death. Instead of doing that or voting down the Bill, the Government could have the strength of its convictions and tell us how it will deal with the problem. In reality, though, it will not deal with the problem.
What happened on Moore Street and Moore Lane in 1916 was important for everyone nationally, not only Dubliners. It is important we remember the struggle to gain our freedom. This debate shows how far we have regressed since then in terms of how the Government responds to Bills and how much the preservation of our history, including a battle site, is developer led. That is disappointing.
The Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, outlined what would be done and what the Government intended to do. It sounded good. He spoke about negotiations with the developer on an underground station to tie into the line from the airport and on 100 residential units on the site. He also spoke about how 9,000 jobs would be created. Behind it all, though, we must wait for the developer. To preserve Moore Street and the rest of the site, which was important in the development and foundation of our State and in the Irish people asserting themselves, we are waiting for the developer to come up with a plan.
This situation has been going on for many years. The first developer went bust, so a plan never materialised. The House just heard that the current developer, Hammerson, will appear before the courts in coming weeks because it is also going bust. This means the plan will be put back again and we will have to wait for another developer to come along. The State should take in the historical sites, make preservation orders and tell any future developer that wants to develop around them that it must work to our development plan, not the other way around. Doing this would be important in standing up for and preserving our sites.
The Minister of State mentioned that funding had been earmarked for the site. Of course it has been earmarked. It is earmarked because it depends on whether the current developer survives and puts forward its plans, gets planning permission and is willing to do this work. Everything depends on the developer. That is the crux of the problem and is the reason the Government does not want to accept this Bill. It does not want what must be done laid down in legislation. Instead, it wants to hold off and facilitate the developer in developing the site and making as much money as it can. This shows where our State has come to, in that we have given over our rights and wishes concerning our national identity to developers. Everything is development led. That is the sad reality of the situation.
We should propose what we want to do and make it happen. This Bill shows that we can do so. In the Seanad in 2015, the Minister stated it was his intention to introduce such legislation. It is another sign of how things work in the State that, as usual, he forgot all about doing so as soon as he entered government and went along with the Government's plans, whatever they were, to ensure developers were protected. This shows how the State has developed. We can say and do one thing in opposition and, as soon as we move across into the comfortable seats, we forget it all and continue the process that has been under way. I hope people will see the cynicism in that, that it needs to change and that such change will be delivered. I hope it will be a salutary message to anyone who in future takes the Government members' positions that this has to change.
Deputies stand on this side of the House and propose ideas. When they move over to the Government side, their role is to ensure those ideas are fulfilled. If something is worthwhile when they are standing here, it is still worthwhile when they are standing on the Government side. That should not change just because civil servants, Deputies' partners in government or developers tell them it is not worthwhile. Developers should not be treated as gods. We must ensure there is continuity and that, when something is said in the House, people try to deliver on it when they get the chance. We will then have a State that is worthwhile for everyone.
What is happening around the commemoration of this 1916 site is symbolic of everything that is wrong in the State. Developers are leading on it and politicians are saying one thing but doing another when they get into power. This has to change. If it did change, for example, through this Bill, it would be a good legacy. Unfortunately, the Government has not changed it.
I am sharing time with Deputy Ó Cuív and Deputy McAuliffe.
I have listened carefully to the Deputies. I reiterate the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan's affirmation of sharing the sense of great importance about the 1916 Rising and its central place in the history of our State and of the importance of remembering it and preserving the traces and memories that remain of those events and everyone involved. No one party has ownership of the past, nor the right to appropriate it. The hallmarks of the approach to commemoration have been the lack of partisanship and a shared agreement to engage together. The all-party Oireachtas committee on commemorations and the model of stakeholder participation that is the Moore Street advisory group, now in its third and final phase, are models for that shared, mature and self-confident approach to addressing a seminal moment in our history.
There has been much talk about the rejuvenation of our cities and towns in a post-pandemic period, including a renewed emphasis on liveability and quality of life with a greater mix of diverse uses to include cultural activities and events, as well as more homes, jobs and shops. This is particularly true of the area in question, which is the traditional retail heart of Dublin and includes sites and buildings that have been subject to regeneration and development proposals for many years. It is clear the pandemic has resulted in the acceleration of underlying trends in retail, including a shift to online shopping and suburban shopping centres and, consequently, vacant floor space arising from the critical loss of vibrancy and footfall. This, combined with the impact of much of the workforce operating from home, has given rise to a serious challenge to our city centres. We need to ensure we can develop sustainable and complementary alternative uses for central parts of our cities, in particular the complex and historical urban quarters that are of cultural, heritage and commercial value. There is also a need to respond to changing trends and opportunities while retaining the key elements of areas' essential characters.
To be sustainable, regeneration must ensure the future viability and attractiveness of places on an ongoing basis and be overseen by governance and funding mechanisms that are accountable and transparent. Plans must be inclusive and involve all stakeholders, with no single interest having a veto. To be successful and implementable, plans must be sufficiently grounded in reality and attract investment. Ultimately, regeneration is about creating places that people want to live, work, visit and invest in and can remain so for future generations.
I note the proposed functions of An Cheathrú in developing strategies of a commercial and commemorative nature to ensure Moore Street becomes a fitting and permanent tribute to the events of 1916. The Ireland 2016 centenary programme included significant State investment in a capital programme of permanent reminders dedicated to the men and women of 1916 and the wider revolutionary period. Eight flagship capital projects - the permanent reminders - were supported around the country. Six of these are in Dublin, some quite close to the Moore Street area.
They include the development of the GPO Witness History interpretive and visitor centre and the restoration and adaptation of two buildings that were part of Richmond Barracks, particularly the building in which the 1916 leaders were interred and court-martialled. The programme also included the creation of an exhibition and interpretive space which offers an important amenity for the public and the local community as a modern heritage site. There was an initiative funded by Dublin City Council and the Government to develop 14 Henrietta Street into a centre of the exploration of Georgian and tenement life in the north inner city of Dublin, incorporating exhibitions, a living oral history initiative and a training programme for the conservation of trade skills. Another initiative was the restoration of the historic Kevin Barry Rooms in the National Concert Hall which were the setting for the Treaty ratification debates of the Second Dáil Éireann, following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London on 6 December 1921. Other projects include the refurbishment of Kilmainham Courthouse and the completion of the new military archives building at Cathal Brugha Barracks.
It is obvious, however, that Moore Street itself needs special attention and needs it now. As such, I understand the motivation and concerns of Deputy Ó Snodaigh in introducing the Bill. The trading situation on Moore Street is long and beloved. The traders rely on a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the area in order to continue to make a living in what is invariably a long-standing family tradition of trading on Moore Street. It would be an absolute tragedy to allow this important part of our history to come to an end. However, positive things are new beginnings.
The acquisition by the State of the national monument at 14 to 17 Moore Street was an important step forward. The recent announcement of a significant urban regeneration and development funding allocation will contribute significantly to the reversing of urban decay and the decline that has unfortunately been to the forefront in the north inner city in recent years. I heartily welcome the opportunity presented by this allocation. I understand the funding has been accelerated to progress getting the national monument to a stage at which it can be fully refurbished and presented for public tours. The refurbishment and opening of the national monument, along with the advances in plans for the wider area will, no doubt, have positive feedback and knock-on effects for the street and markets. The traders themselves can expect better times ahead and look forward to a better atmosphere and operating environment, as can local businesses that are struggling in the current circumstances. On the subject of Moore Street traders, as Minister of State with responsibility for local government and planning, I encourage and fully welcome continued discussion with and support for the traders on the part of Dublin City Council.
I welcome the fact that Hammerson, the owner of most of the Dublin central site, is in continuing discussions with the traders and aims to mitigate any destruction during the construction phases of the plans. I also welcome the fact that there have been significant developments and changes in the Hammerson plans on foot of earlier submissions by the Moore Street advisory group. I understand that the group showed and updated its plans earlier this year and that they were broadly welcomed. The group now has an unprecedented opportunity to influence the future of the area for the better. I know it will share its views with Hammerson before the planning application is finalised. I am delighted with the commitment in the developer's latest plans to retain the fabric of the large number of buildings with historical significance, such as Conway's public house, Nos. 8 to 10 Moore Street, Nos. 20 and 21 Moore Street, O'Brien's Stables, O'Brien's Bottling Stores and the potential artistic use of the White House site, along with the re-imagining of No. 10 Henry Place as a potential gallery. This will be particularly welcome in the context of commemorating the events of 1916.
Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire Stáit as ucht am a roinnt liom. Ceann de na hoidhreachtaí is mó a tháinig as 1916 ná áit na Gaeilge sa tsochaí agus is ceart é sin a chaomhnú nuair atáimid ag caint ar rudaí a chaomhnú. Bhí baint nach beag agam leis an MSAG, an coiste comhairleach a chuir an tAire ar bun. Bhí ar an gcéad choiste agus ar an dara coiste agus, go deimhin féin, bhí mé ann nuair a bunaíodh an coiste sin. Creidim go mba é an coiste an bealach is fearr chun dul ar aghaidh agus chun glacadh le moltaí an choiste agus iad a chur i bhfeidhm. D'fhoilsigh an coiste dhá thuarascáil, Uimh. 1 agus 2, agus bhí comhaontú iomlán ar an gcoiste don dá thuarascáil sin agus tuigtear dom go bhfuil an tríú tuarascáil a bheith réitithe go luath. Ba cheart go mbeadh sé sin mar bhunchloch don ród seo romhainn agus don bhealach a rachaimis ar aghaidh leis an togra fíorthábhachtach seo. Tá sé thar am againn bogadh ar aghaidh chun cinneadh a dhéanamh agus athchóiriú iomlán a dhéanamh ar Shráid an Mhúraigh, ag coinneáil ar ár n-intinn i gcónaí an dream atá ag maireachtáil thart sa cheantar agus go mór mór iad siúd atá ag trádáil ar an tsráid le fada an lá.
Is mar sin, is fiú an Bille seo a scrúdú. Níl aon amhras faoi sin ach é a dhéanamh i gcónaí i gcomhthéacs na dtuarascálacha a chuir an MSAG i dtoll a chéile mar tá ionadaíocht leathan ar an gcoiste sin agus má thagann siadsan ar aghaidh le moltaí bheinn ag moladh don Aire glacadh leis na moltaí sin. Bhí ionchur ollmhór ón Stát i gceist leis sin agus táim ag tnúth leis an lá go dtiocfaidh mé go dtí Sráid an Mhúraigh agus go mbeidh fís ollmhór curtha i gcrích.
As Vice Chairman of the Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage, I welcome the decision of the Government to allow the Bill to progress to the committee, where we can discuss it in context with the advisory group report. I thank the Moore Street campaign and the proposers of the Bill because it does reflect the ambition of the Bill which I drafted in 2015 with the then Senator, now Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, supported by Deputy Ó Cuív and Senator Fitzpatrick. The Minister has already put his money where his mouth is by allocating €12 million to the regeneration of the street, the commemorative centre and supporting the traders. That builds on the decision by the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, former Deputy Dick Roche, to designate it a national monument and the decision of the previous Government to take it into public ownership.
I ask that Members work together on this issue. We can deliver a world-class centre on this site. I ask that we do not divide on the issue. Some of the comments made during the debate today were false and incorrect. I refer in particular to Deputy Munster stating that the national monument is being handed over to a private company. In fact, the exact opposite is happening. I think the record should be protected. When we are standing at the opening alongside Deputy Munster, she will have been proved wrong and we will have delivered for the people of Ireland.
I acknowledge my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh, for moving the Bill. The debate on the Bill has adequately reflected the really important place that Moore Street occupies in the story of our country. The years of neglect and abandonment by the State have not diminished its aura or its legacy for our people, notwithstanding the reality of the dereliction and grime and, as one Deputy described it, it being used as an outdoor lavatory from time to time.
Notwithstanding that, it is a place at the very heart of our country's long struggle for independence and a republic. It is hallowed ground. Its laneways are the laneways of history. When one walks its streets, one walks in the footsteps of the brave men and women of the 1916 Rising who carried the dream of an Ireland that could be free, equal and united, a nation that cherishes equality and justice for all. That is no small thing. These are not just buildings, laneways and streets. This is where the Republic lived as the rebels of Easter week fought to break the connection between Ireland and British imperialism. It was in the Moore Street area that the very heart of that Republic beat. It then reverberated through the years that followed and across the world. Following six days of heroic resistance, the centre of our city of Dublin lay in ruins. Five of the leaders of the Provisional Government met for the last time in No. 16 Moore Street and ordered the surrender.
What happened 105 years ago in the area surrounding Moore Street changed the course of our history forever. The area includes the historic terrace at Nos. 10 to 25 Moore Street, as well as the GPO, the White House, the O'Brien's Bottling Stores on Henry Place and the lanes, streets and boundaries of Moore Street, Moore Lane, Henry Place and O'Rahilly Parade. What happened in these places, the stage upon which our city fought an empire, ensured that things would never be the same again. As Yeats wrote, "All changed, changed utterly".
The 1916 Rising brought with it a wind of history that has left its mark on every square inch of the Moore Street area. That is why the battlefield site was rightly recognised by the High Court in 2016 as a national monument. As has been said today, most countries have sites and buildings that are important to them in terms of their journeys to nationhood and freedom, revered places that stand in testimony to a people risen in the name of their independence. It is right that these places are honoured and we should honour ours too. Moore Street should be and can be a landmark of modern Irish history, a citadel of the values so poetically expressed in the Proclamation and in the Democratic Programme.
Not only is the Moore Street area renowned for its place in our revolutionary history, but it is also teeming with culture and tradition. The Moore Street market has been referred to. It is Dublin's oldest food market and predates the Famine. It is a place where generations of people have come to witness and soak up Dublin heritage at its most raw and in the most everyday of ways. No trip to our nation's capital is complete without a walk among the stalls of Moore Street or without encountering the wit, banter and charm of our traders. The authentic atmosphere and unvarnished experience of the Moore Street market is special and it is an experience that we must preserve, enhance and promote as part of our city's attractions. The laneways of Moore Street echo with our past but they also chime loudly with the prospect of a vibrant future.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh's Bill to revitalise the 1916 Moore Street quarter is about building an exciting future for an area that is steeped in our very proud history. We need to unite over the truth that our heritage and past are too important to be handed over to the whims of a private developer who would perhaps pave over our history with a shopping centre. The Hammerson plan should be rejected openly and outright and the listing of the buildings on Moore Street should continue. The regeneration of the area can be advanced through the development of art, music and sport, as well as establishing a permanent, outdoor Moore Street market. Such a creative and modern approach would boost tourism, footfall and jobs in an effective way. This Bill supports the approach envisaged by the Save Moore Street and 1916 relatives groups who have fought long and hard for the State to take action to preserve and revitalise the area. Indeed, it should be noted that the group's own impressive plan would see much-needed housing, retail and cultural experiences woven throughout this historic quarter. That is the right plan for this area and should be adopted and driven by the State. That plan has the potential to transform the inner city and act as a catalyst for further regeneration and enhancement.
For far too long, Governments and Ministers have delayed acting and that needs to stop. At the beginning of our debate, the Minister reflected that, in his view, we were in a better place. That is true and it is not. It is true inasmuch as we now have an identifiable national monument but it is not true insofar as we still face a reluctance, hesitancy and refusal to grasp this opportunity. I want to challenge all of us, particularly those in government, to be ambitious and see the bigger picture. Easter week in 1916 was a watershed time for Dublin, Ireland and, arguably, the world. The leaders of the Rising who met for the last time at 16 Moore Street knew the importance of seizing the moment and, with this Bill, we now have the opportunity to create a vibrant 1916 historical quarter, a living museum in the heart of our city. This is our moment and I wish us to seize it. The 1916 Rising changed the course of Irish history. It is not enough for the Government simply not to oppose this legislation and then sit back and do nothing. We need active support for this legislation now. I agree that we need to work in a united fashion and a collegiate way. We need to sit down together to make this a reality. No time can be lost. We should adopt an all-Oireachtas approach and bring this Bill to life.
Ar dtús báire, gabhaim buíochas leis na cainteoirí ar fad sa díospóireacht seo. Bhí an méid a dúirt siad maith agus thacaigh sé leis an méid a bhí le rá agam féin maidir le Sráid an Mhúraigh.
I welcome what has been said by most of the contributors, the support they have shown and supportive and positive comments they have made. Some have highlighted the scandalous planning decisions associated with this area and the cultural vandalism of the State in the past. The questionable role of NAMA and its officials in many of the projects has also been raised. The Committee of Public Accounts might find a way to look at NAMA's Project Jewel and the fact that one NAMA official who was centrally involved in the Moore Street transaction left NAMA to head Hammerson Ireland, the company that is seeking to destroy parts of the 1916 fabric.
The Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, apologised to me last night for the fact that he was unable to be here for the debate and told me he was not opposing the Bill. I welcome his commitment and that of the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, to work constructively to ensure that any potential policy, legal and financial issues contained in the Bill are addressed. I have put forward the Bill and I have been around here long enough to understand that it is not the Bill that will be before us at the end of the process.
I also welcome the support for the Bill from, in particular, the traders and retailers on the street. They do not want the Hammerson plan and do not have faith in the company. They support my Bill's intention to establish a cultural quarter with homes above the shops, not another Temple Bar. They have not been bought by the pie-in-the-sky job figures that were mentioned earlier or the promise of a metro sometime, somewhere, or the footfall figures based on a golden era of shopping malls that has long passed. That era will not continue post pandemic.
I want people to take the time to imagine a lively street with shops, market stalls, street entertainers, cafés, music, galleries, butchers, bakers, bookshops, corner shops, our national monument buildings and the historic experience associated with them. That is the intention of my Bill. We have an opportunity here. If that opportunity is lost by allowing Hammerson to develop, we will be doing a disservice to our historical culture. Just in case the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, is not aware of the fact, the decade of centenaries committee has not met for years and the Moore Street advisory group, MSAG, is not likely to support the Hammerson plan. In fact, quite the opposite is likely if it takes a position on this matter at all. I thank Deputies for taking part in the debate.