Seanad debates

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

National Monuments

10:30 am

Photo of Mary FitzpatrickMary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House to take this Commencement matter. I am looking for an update on when works will commence on the 1916 commemorative centre in Moore Street and on the regeneration of the street market. The Minister of State knows that Moore Street is at the heart of our capital city. It is a street where there has been market and street trading for generations, dating back to the 18th century. Fruit and vegetable traders are on the street, as well as shops and traders who live and trade on the street.

Over recent decades the street has deteriorated. It has been terribly neglected by the State and the city council to the point where there are very few owner-traders left on the street. Buckley's and Troy's are the only shop owners on the street, and street traders have been neglected for years and left without public lighting, running water and access to electricity. It is absolutely disgraceful how Dublin City Council has treated street traders. Those people have kept the street alive.

The street is also the birthplace of our Republic. Back on 24 April 1916, Pádraig Pearse, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett led their soldiers to the GPO. For five days they battled with the British to assert our independence. They evacuated the GPO through Henry Street and Henry Place, onto Moore Lane and into Moore Street. The last meeting place and headquarters of the 1916 Rising was at 14-17 Moore Street. It was in 15 Moore Street that nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell made the surrender.

That site has been designated as a national monument for a very long time. Since I was first elected in 2004, no more than all of the relatives and those who trade on the street, I have worked for years with the State to try to regenerate the street and commemorate our history. I brought all of the reports on Moore Street with me today. What I have here is only a fraction of them. I could go on. There is a report on the Moore Street battlefield site, an architectural report, a securing history report and a citizens plan. There are nearly more reports than there were volunteers in the GPO. The State needs to step up to the plate.

There are two final reports. I chaired the Moore Street expert group on Dublin City Council before I was appointed to the Seanad. We made strong recommendations to create a vibrant and diverse market that speaks to the future as well as respecting our past. In May this year, I was delighted to be the Fianna Fáil representative, along with my colleague, Councillor Eimear McCormack, on the Minister's advisory group. We produced a third securing history report which makes strong recommendations for the national monument and street market.

It is unreasonable for us to expect anybody to respect the street when the State is not respecting history and street traders. I hope the Minister of State can give us some good news today regarding a commencement date for the work on the national monument at 14-17 Moore Street and a commemorative centre. A great vision document has been produced by the Irish Heritage Trust. I hope the Minister of State will be able to advise the House today on a commencement date for that. I also hope he will be able to advise us on when Dublin City Council will get its act together and regenerate the street market.

Photo of Peter BurkePeter Burke (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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I thank Senator Fitzpatrick for her very important Commencement matter. In March, €121,285,388 was allocated to Dublin City Council in respect of the north inner city concept area 1 under call 2 of the urban regeneration and development fund. The north inner city project involves the regeneration and redevelopment of several areas of the north city that have experienced a degree of decline and dereliction over a number of years, resulting in poor perception issues and the depiction of an area that the market has now forgotten.

The main objective of this project is to achieve long-term sustainable regeneration around the redevelopment of various areas, centred around the fruit and vegetable market, Parnell Square and Mountjoy Square. Complementary projects include the Moore Street public realm renewal works, with the intention of reactivating one of the most important trading assets in the city, along with structural and restoration works to the national monument at 14-17 Moore Street. Work on the national monument, which is in the ownership of the Department, will facilitate the protection and use of these historical buildings as an iconic heritage and visitor attraction in the form of a 1916 commemorative centre, along with the rejuvenation of the historic street.

The regeneration of Moore Street market and street is a matter for Dublin City Council and I am assured by the expert advisory group appointed in this regard. The Moore Street advisory group, of which the Senator is a valued member, recommended in its report to the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, and the Minister of State, Deputy Malcolm Noonan, earlier this year that the process embarked on by the OPW and the national monument service of the Department to restore the national monument and open it up to the public as soon as possible will continue.

Officials from the Department and the OPW have liaised in order to progress this. I understand the OPW is in the process of appointing a team to carry out phase 1 essential works to the monument which will ensure stability and provide a pathway for the phase 2 completion works to commence. I am sure the Senator will appreciate that the Minister and Minister of State are keen that these essential works commence as soon as possible and without any further delay. I can assure the Senator, on their behalf, that plans are under way for the sensitive and respectful restoration of the monument, along with a visitor centre to the rear, to progress as soon as possible.

Photo of Mary FitzpatrickMary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister of State. I am really concerned. I have no doubt that the Ministers of State, Deputies Burke and Noonan, and the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, understand the value of Moore Street. They are committed to a sense of regeneration and commemoration of our history on Moore Street and the rejuvenation of the street market.

I have grave concerns that despite the €121 million given to Dublin City Council it is not moving ahead and using those funds in a way that would deliver the type of restoration of the national monument and regeneration of the street market that is desperately needed. I ask that the Minister of State have a meeting with the CEO of Dublin City Council and seek from him a report giving absolute timelines that work will progress on the street. It is not good enough for us to allow the neglect, decay and deterioration of the street to continue. There was some excuse during Covid, but we are all re-emerging from it now.

We have a vision for Moore Street that respects the past and embraces the future. The Minister of State, along with the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, and the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, share that vision. I ask them to seek an urgent meeting with the CEO of Dublin City Council and secure from him an absolute commitment on when works will commence on the street. I also ask him to arrange a meeting of the Moore Street advisory group with the OPW and the Department to understand their timelines for the commencement of works on the commemorative museum.

Photo of Peter BurkePeter Burke (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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I thank Senator Fitzpatrick for her comments and acknowledge the genuine concern that she has about this area. We all share that and it is very important that we put that point across.

I will raise with the Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, the Senator's request to meet with the Dublin city manager to try to progress a distinct timeline for when work will commence. I met the management of Dublin City Council last week to discuss projects in other areas of the north inner city that have been delayed and which we are trying to progress. This specific issue is the responsibility of the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, and the Minister. I will seek a commitment from them to have a meeting.

I will also seek a meeting with the advisory group and OPW in order to establish a timeline for the commencement of phase 1 of the works. I appreciate the value Moore Street has for the community and how important an area it is. We need to display urgency on behalf of the State in getting works under way because it is something that will underwrite the community into the future once it is done.