That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014 for the purpose of deeming certain parts of Moore Street, and its environs, in the City of Dublin to be a national monument for the purposes of those Acts; and to provide for related matters.
The Moore Street battlefield is the birthplace of the Irish Republic. Its streets, lanes and buildings reverberate with the selfless heroism that ended for most of the island the hundreds of years of occupation, exploitation and oppression. O'Brien's Mineral Water Works building on Henry Place was occupied by the volunteers evacuating the General Post Office. The White Cottage on Henry Place was occupied and held under fire by Michael Collins. The Bottling Store on Moore Street was occupied and held by Captain Frank Henderson and was the location of the killing of Michael Mulvihill and Henry Coyle. The building at 10 Moore Street was the point of entry to the terrace, the leaders' refuge, the location of the field hospital set up by nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell and Julia Grenan and the location of the killing of Paddy Shortis. The buildings at 20 and 21 Moore Street were the locations of the acceptance by the volunteers of the surrender after consultation with Clarke, Plunkett, Collins and Mac Diarmada. The building at 25 Moore Street was the location of the killing of The O'Rahilly, Charles Corrigan and Francis Macken.
Moore Street has also been the location of several serious battles in recent times. Unfortunately, due to these battles, Moore Street is completely frozen in dereliction. The once vibrant market that was famous throughout the city of Dublin is now a pale shadow of its former self. The people who are carrying out the tradition there and trying to eke out a living – the traders – are in many ways being held prisoner by a policy of inertia by this Government. Moore Street is a sterile derelict site because Fine Gael has refused to live up to its responsibilities. It has refused to make a simple decision to issue a preservation order and turn Moore Street back into the vibrant cultural and historical quarter that it could be.
There is a live planning permission for the site.
That live planning permission is in the hands of a large international developer. While there has been some welcome interaction between the developer in question and the ministerial advisory forum, this has been limited. The planning permission could be enacted at any time, which means the buildings I listed would be threatened with destruction.
Despite admitting that the Moore Street battlefield site is a national monument, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is unwilling to issue the necessary preservation orders for the buildings. The Department refuses to issue a preservation order because all the stakeholders are interacting on the ministerial advisory forum. A preservation notice would not be incompatible with the forum, which will not make or accept any decision that is not fully in sympathy with national monument status. The question that arises is why the Fine Gael-led Government will not officially recognise the national monument status of the Moore Street battlefield site. Why will it not issue a preservation order? A national monument is a national monument, in other words, the GPO is a national monument notwithstanding whether a preservation order applies to it. If it is threatened, a responsibility arises. The Judiciary has clearly stated it is in the court of the Government to issue the preservation order for this site.
The Government should do the right thing by issuing the preservation order and ending the dereliction of the Moore Street site. Unfortunately, the Minister refused to do so last week. As a result, Sinn Féin has been forced to do this job on the Minister's behalf. The Bill proposes to amend the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014 for the purpose of deeming the Moore Street battlefield site a national monument. This will put an end to the nonsense that has been ongoing for decades in the Moore Street quarter. As a result of constant court battles, the north west end of O'Connell Street has been left a sterile, derelict site. It could easily become a rich, vibrant cultural and heritage site in which traders sell products that attract international and local visitors to the area. The Bill has been introduced to bring an end to the decades of court battles. If it proceeds, it will be a victory of the people over the developers and the Government.