National Monuments

I understand a report was recently received by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, regarding the national monument at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street. Over the years colleagues and I have inquired repeatedly about the status and condition of this monument. There is a need for urgency from the Government in regard to its proposals to celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising and deal with this important monument.

No. 16 Moore Street was the headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and the place where they finally called a halt to the rebellion. Moore Street has scarcely changed since that time, almost 100 years ago, other then becoming more derelict. The street was a thriving trading centre in the past but is becoming more decayed by the day. It is one of two national historical monument sites related to the events of 1916. There was a long and concerted campaign, involving the National Graves Association, the Save 16 Moore Street campaign, various public representatives and others, to have the site declared a national monument and thus ensure its proper preservation and development as part of our cultural heritage and tradition. That was eventually achieved in 2006 when Dublin City Council included it in the list of protected structures, after which the then Government declared it a national monument in January 2007. Recognition as a national monument automatically confers preservation order status.

Nevertheless, the site continues to deteriorate by the day. In addition, significant commercial development proposals were instituted at the Carlton site, envisaged as a flagship project for O'Connell Street and Moore Street. Planning permission was granted during the Celtic tiger period but the companies involved in the consortium are now largely in NAMA and nobody knows whether or when the development will commence. Part of the problem is that the proposal for the commercial development includes development on what is known as the backlands, which constitute part of the curtilage of Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. This would be perceived by many people to be a desecration of the site and an interference with its entirety and integrity. The decision that must be made is that the commercial proposal should not include any commercial development in that area but rather that it would be the development of a museum and the restoration of the houses and the ambience that existed at the time. In this way then, the area extending from the GPO to Moore Street and Parnell Street would become a cultural and historic heritage quarter of Dublin city. This is the perception and vision of its future possessed by those who seek to have the site preserved.

The centenary of 1916 is less than five years away and the commemoration activities should begin fairly rapidly. In this area there is no way the development that has received permission could possibly take place within this space of time because the developers are in NAMA at present and consequently, it is impossible for anything to be done. It is time for the Minister to move in and to act to protect and preserve the monument. Under the new national monuments legislation, the Minister is the person who has the responsibility and statutory entitlement to protect the monument. I understand that he recently received a report containing a series of proposals on the commercial development and that he is studying it at present. He should make available those proposals to the various stakeholders and interested parties who have been working to get this monument protected. I refer to those who worked to establish its monument status in the first instance and subsequently to have it developed as part of the centenary proposals.

I highlight the fact that the point has been reached at which even though the Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street site was declared a national monument in January 2007, four years have elapsed and nothing has happened. Various plans have been proposed on a commercial basis but the site remains in dereliction and less than five years remain before the 1916 Rising centenary. Consequently, it now behoves the Minister to act on whatever proposals have been made and certainly to bring them into the public domain so that they can be properly analysed and scrutinised and to move forward with a comprehensive plan to protect one of our most fundamental and most important national monuments.

I thank Deputy Costello for tabling the motion on the need for the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to disclose the contents of the report he has received on the development of the national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Deenihan.

The Government fully appreciates the historical significance of these buildings as the site of the last military actions of the leaders of the 1916 Rising following the evacuation of the GPO. No. 16 is the site of the final council of war and final headquarters of the Provisional Government, which included five of the Proclamation signatories, namely, Pearse, Connolly, Plunkett, Clarke and McDermott. In January 2007, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government placed a preservation order on Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street under the National Monuments Acts. The purpose of this preservation order is to ensure the preservation of the buildings in the context of wider redevelopment proposals centred around the former Carlton cinema site. The preservation order covers Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and includes the yards to the rear of Nos. 15 and 16 Moore Street, extending to Nos. 8 and 9 Moore Lane.

The effect of the preservation order is that any works affecting these properties, including any excavation or ground disturbance within, around or in proximity to them, require the prior written consent of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the National Monuments Acts. An Bord Pleanála has made a decision to grant permission, with conditions, for a mixed development on the former Carlton cinema site, which includes the Moore Street monument. The proposed development of the site, in accordance with the permission granted by An Bord Pleanála, envisages the retention of Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and No. 16 becoming a commemorative centre.

The Deputy refers to the application received by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht last Friday for ministerial consent to carry out works at the national monument. The words proposed, which comprise the conservation of Nos. 14 to 17 as a commemorative centre to facilitate interpretation of the significant cultural history relating to the events of Easter 1916, are being considered carefully by the Minister and officials of his Department. The Minister's written consent will be required prior to the commencement of any works. The application includes the integration of the national monument within the larger Dublin central project. This would require works both outside and within the national monuments preservation order boundary.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the application involves a large amount of material that must be considered carefully by the Minister. The Minister's decision cannot be prejudiced by releasing, at this time, the full detail of the application that has been received. I assure the Deputy, however, that he will have no problem in making the details publicly available once a decision has been reached on this matter.

I thank the Minister of State. Before moving on to the next matter, if there is a telephone close to the Minister of State, he might move it away from the microphone, as much of his reply may have been lost.