Do I need to wait for a Minister?
National Monuments (The Moore Street Battlefield) Bill 2018: Second Stage [Private Members]
Do we have a Minister?
I have not been scheduled to deal with the matter.
Will the Minister of State stick around until the Minister arrives?
I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
The stories of the Irish State and of the Moore Street battlefield site mirror each other in many ways. Moore Street has been said to be the birthplace of the Irish State. The lanes and buildings that surround the street reverberate with the heroism of the people who were out in 1916. That action was the precursor to an independent State and, hopefully, that of the Northern state someday too. The Moore Street battlefield site was the location of the final stand of many of the volunteers who fought in the GPO in 1916. They came under heavy machine gun fire in the laneways around Moore Street and set up the last headquarters of the 1916 Provisional Government of the Irish Republic and the final council of war. Moore Street is also home to wonderfully rich architecture and one of the last extant 18th century streetscapes in Dublin. It is populated by a rich culture of street trading which is an iconic part of Dublin's heritage. That street trade has suffered radically over the last number of years with many traders now working in deplorable conditions. The energy that was once there seems, unfortunately, to be dissipating.
Moore Street has latterly become the location of another radically significant battle in Irish society. For the last 20 years, the street has been ground zero in a series of legal battles between Celtic tiger developers and those who seek to develop the area as a fitting tribute to the men and women of 1916. The latter seek to develop the street in a way that educates, informs and inspires future generations of Irish people and tourists alike. However, Moore Street has been sterilised by legal case after legal case and the inaction of successive Governments. The word "inaction" may be a little generous to the Government. Moore Street was determined by the High Court to be a national monument and the Government appealed that decision. It had a status which would have ensured the integrity of the battlefield site was protected but that status has disappeared. As a result, any existing planning application could be rolled out and the street's buildings could be destroyed.
The saddest aspect of this is that Moore Street is just off O'Connell Street and ideally located to constitute a vibrant new historical, cultural and trading quarter. Moore Street represents a unique opportunity where commercial interests could operate successfully side by side with a strengthened and rejuvenated street trading system. The relevant buildings and streetscapes could shed the grime and dereliction into which they have been forced and we could weave through them the story of the humanity of the Rising.
I wonder if at this stage we should in fact wait for the Minister to attend.
I suggest we pause to allow her to attend.
I have received a text to say she is on her way.
As the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has arrived, I note that the usual procedures apply. The movers of the motion have 15 minutes, the Government has 15 minutes and, thereafter, we will take other speakers. If Deputy Tóibín wishes, he can start again.
We might as well do that.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
The stories of the Irish State and of Moore Street are very much mirror images of each other. It is often said that the battlefield site is the birthplace of the State. The lanes of Moore Street reverberated with the heroism of 1916 which set in train the events leading to the freedom of this part of the island and the end of hundreds of years of occupation and exploitation. Moore Street was the location of the final stand of the volunteers who fought in the GPO in 1916. Those volunteers came under heavy machine gun fire in the laneways around Moore Street where they set up the last headquarters of the 1916 Provisional Government of the Irish Republic and its final council of war. Moore Street is also home to wonderful architecture with one of the last extant 18th century streetscapes in the city and is populated by a rich culture of traders who are nearly as iconic a part of Dublin's heritage. Those traders have been radically let down by the State, however, and now operate in very difficult conditions.
Moore Street is at the centre of another massive battle which is taking place in Irish society.
Over the past 20 years, it has been ground zero of a legal battle between Celtic tiger developers and those who seek to create a fitting tribute to the men and women of 1916 that educates, informs and inspires future generations of Irish people and visitors to this country. The area has been sterilised by years of legal cases and inaction on the part of successive governments. With the word "inaction" I am being generous to the Government to a certain extent because I believe the Government has been damaging to the future of Moore Street. One of these damaging acts was the Minister's predecessor's decision to appeal the High Court decision that the battlefield site was in fact a national monument. At the time, it was stated that the appeal had nothing to do with Moore Street but rather was about the consequences the decision would have elsewhere. The Government stated it was happy that Moore Street would be a national monument, but those days seem to be over.
The saddest thing about this is that Moore Street is located just off O'Connell Street and ideally located to be the centre of a vibrant historical, cultural and trading quarter. Moore Street is an opportunity that has lain derelict over the past seven to ten years. We need to work towards a situation whereby the commercial interests in the area can operate side by side with a rejuvenated street trading system in order that the relevant buildings and the streetscape can shed the grime of dereliction and be restored to their former character and that the story of the humanity of the Rising can be woven through all this. This is the objective of the forum in which I have been involved in recent years, and it is shocking to see this opportunity not being taken by this Government and it sitting on its hands on the matter.
The term "national monument" means "a monument or the remains of a monument the preservation of which is a matter of national importance by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archaeological interest attaching thereto". Is anyone in this Chamber stating that Moore Street does not fulfil this definition? If not, why is it that every excuse possible is found not to make this simple decision? The Minister or her predecessor at any stage could have written a statutory order stating these criteria and why it should have been taken. That is all it was necessary to do. We in Sinn Féin have decided to circumvent the Government's inaction on this and simply bring this Bill to the table.
I welcome that the Government has tabled an amendment which recognises the importance of the forum on Moore Street and its recommendations. Our proposal to declare the battlefield site a national monument is perfectly in keeping with this report. The Bill is in no way at odds with the forum report. The report states: "In light of the widespread agreement as to the significance of the area as a battlefield site, the Group believes that the history, character, streetscape and remaining architecture of the area constitute key pillars on which to renew, rebuild and recreate." Where is this missing in the Bill we have produced? I ask the Minister to show where there is any kind of disagreement between the two objectives of the report that she supports and the Bill we bring before the House today. The report also states:
The preservation of the existing lines of the street and the lanes and the restoration of the streetscapes are essential.
The retention of historical structures and of the line and form of the block 10 – 25 Moore Street is also integral to this approach.
The Minister stated her support for this. Again, I call on her to state her support for our Bill. The Bill we are discussing is the objective of the Moore Street campaign. I imagine, therefore, that all the different parties that have been involved in the Moore Street campaign would logically support this Bill.
The Minister mentioned that she supported the outcomes of the forum, but those outcomes were very clear. The forum basically said there would be a framework of consensus on alternative development arrangements within six months of the report. That report was published in March 2017 and that framework is not there. It also stated that planning permission would be lodged with Dublin City Council, DCC. That is not there. In fact, the original planning permission, which would destroy what we have just discussed, is still extant. There were many suggestions in the report as to what can be done to the street, and I call on the Minister to activate those suggestions. There are buildings currently within the gift of the Government. Anyone who has had the chance to walk into buildings Nos. 14 to 17 will be depressed by the current state of them. They are in phenomenal disrepair inside. There is one end of those four buildings where the water is gushing through. The objective of this report, which the Minister supports, could be enacted right now. She could lead a legacy whereby Nos. 14 to 17, which are not in contention anywhere, could be developed to the standard we all seek. Why is this not being done? Why is the Office of Public Works, OPW, the Minister's Department etc. not coming to this decision?
I am disappointed by the role Fianna Fáil is playing in this. When Fianna Fáil was in opposition a number of years ago, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, then a Senator, introduced a Bill on the redevelopment of Moore Street and urged that "what is developed around the Moore Street battlefield site area and the adjacent lanes is conserved and developed appropriately and sensitively given the context of the site". That Bill contained many of the objectives we are discussing here.
The forum is not an excuse for inaction or inertia. Its recommendations are in line with the objectives of this Bill. It will be helped by the Bill because it will ensure that any current commercial interest there would have to be sympathetic to the needs of society. I ask the Minister to hear this because it is important. The current owner of this property is engaging with the forum, and I welcome that, but there is no confidence or surety that that owner will be the owner in two, three, four or five years. In fact, given the history of the site, it is very likely we will have a new owner to deal with in two or three years. The problem is that in two or three years the Minister is also unlikely to be in the position she now holds. She may be elsewhere, there may be another Minister and I foresee that if we do not take these steps today, a dwindling number of street traders will be operating in a disastrous, sterile, derelict environment, the area will still be a blackspot on north inner city Dublin and we will have given nothing to the next generation when it comes to the value and the humanity of 1916. I plead with the Minister to take the opportunity to accept this Bill, which will not cause any damage whatsoever, and leave a legacy behind her.
Táim buíoch as an deis seo labhairt ar an mBille tábhachtach seo. Gabhaim mo bhuíochas leis an Teachta Tóibín as ucht é a chur faoi bhráid na Dála, agus iarraim ar gach aon Teachta tacaíocht a thabhairt don Bhille atá ós ár gcomhair. The aim of the Bill before the Dáil is to designate certain parts of Moore Street and its immediate surroundings a national monument, the Moore Street battlefield site, as Deputy Tóibín has set out. This would ensure that the route taken by the volunteers on their evacuation of the GPO during the Easter Rising would be adequately preserved. I hope the Bill will receive the unanimous support of Deputies.
Moore Street lies at the heart of my constituency. Not alone is it a street steeped in history, it is a street like no other. It is home to a street-trading tradition that goes back generations and, as I am sure everyone knows, the traders of Moore Street, the Molly Malones as they are sometimes referred to, make an unparalleled contribution to the life and vibrancy of the inner city.
Among them will be found some of the finest Dublin characters one will ever meet. I am fortunate to call many of them my friends. They need to be front and centre in all plans to redevelop Moore Street in order that their tradition is preserved and their livelihoods maintained. That is essential.
Alongside that, redevelopment must honour the heritage of the Moore Street quarter and the entire Moore Street terrace needs to be protected, preserved and restored. Sinn Féin's long-standing proposal to develop a historical quarter in the area would be of considerable benefit to the city both economically and socially. Unfortunately, due to countless legal battles, the development of Moore Street has ground to a halt. It has to be said that is a direct result of the actions and inaction of successive Governments. The Minister has refused to issue a preservation order for the buildings on Moore Street that this Bill identifies as compromising the national monument on Moore Street. She has refused to do this despite the Court of Appeal confirming in February that she has the power to do so.
The Bill proposes to amend the National Monuments Acts for the purposes of deeming the Moore Street site a national monument. Such a move would put an end to the nonsense that has been ongoing for decades in respect of the site. As a result of the legal wrangling that has surrounded it, the entire north western end of O'Connell Street has been left in a state of disgraceful disrepair. As a result, the entire street suffers and O'Connell Street is undoubtedly not fulfilling its potential as the main thoroughfare of our capital city. Moore Street could be, and should be, a rich, vibrant cultural and heritage site that would adequately honour the legacy of the men and women of 1916. It would also serve as a catalyst for the renewal of the entire area.
A large international developer holds planning permission for effectively all of the buildings on the side of the street where the national monument is located. While there has been some interaction between the developer concerned and the ministerial advisory forum, this has been limited. The planning permission could be enacted at any time which means that the buildings listed in the Bill, except 14 to 17 Moore Street, would be threatened with destruction. We are told the Minister has refused to take the necessary preservation order because all stakeholders are interacting on the ministerial advisory forum. A preservation notice is not incompatible with that forum, which will not make or accept any decision that is not fully in sympathy with national monument status. The Minister needs to understand that and to take it on board.
We need the Government to step up and put in place proper safeguards for the Moore Street quarter. The Minister should do the right thing and issue the preservation order. If she does that, the Bill could be withdrawn. If she does not, we will have no option but to persist with our campaign to see to it that the Dáil acts instead. Similarly, the campaign outside will continue. As I conclude, I commend the work of the Save No. 16 Moore Street Committee and the 1916 relatives group over the years. I fear that without their tireless advocacy Moore Street would have been irrevocably lost and damaged. As a result of their tireless work, we have an opportunity to do something different and meaningful, and to do what we should, which is the right thing. Iarraim ar gach Teachta tacú leis an mBille atá romhainn.
I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “That” and substitute the following:
Dáil Éireann declines to give a second reading to the National Monuments (The Moore Street Battlefield) Bill 2018 in order to allow the Moore St. Advisory Group to continue and conclude its deliberations, given that the Bill, as proposed, is pre-emptive of the on-going work of the Group, which
(a) has broad political representation; and
(b) is actively addressing the issues to which this Bill relates and the recommendations of the Moore St. Report – Securing History, prepared and agreed unanimously by an earlier consultative group with similarly broad political and stakeholder representation.
I have listened carefully to what Deputies Tóibín and McDonald have said and I share with both of them the same sense of the great importance of the 1916 Rising and its central place in the history of our State and of the importance of remembering it and preserving the traces that remain of the events that took place at that time. None of this is lost on the Government, which can look back with justifiable pride and satisfaction at the wonderfully successful and highly inspirational programme of commemorative events that took place two years ago. They drew in communities from every county in the country in unprecedented numbers to pay respectful tribute to the 1916 leaders and to the sacrifices they made on our behalf to give us our independence and our right to self-determination.
However, while the Government fully appreciates the constructive motivations that brought the Bill about, for reasons that I will clarify, I am seeking to have further Second Stage consideration deferred to allow other initiatives come to fruition which have greater potential to facilitate an appropriate regeneration of the Moore Street area in a way that will recognise its history and traditions and ensure they continue to have pride of place in a part of Dublin that is crying out for rejuvenation.
No. 16 Moore Street is where the decision to surrender was made by the leaders of the 1916 Rising. Nos. 14 to 17 were declared a national monument in 2007 as the most authentic, complete and coherent collection of surviving pre-1916 buildings on Moore Street with 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 significant, there is also 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.
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 in 2015 with a view to having them open to the public in time for the centenary. The House will generally be aware of subsequent developments including the proceedings in the High Court, to which the Deputies referred, and those in the Court of Appeal. All of this culminated in the establishment of the Moore Street advisory group which right now is working and making progress on finding solutions to the future regeneration of Moore Street 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. This group was established by my predecessor in May 2017 and its membership includes Deputy Tóibin, who is promoting this Bill; Deputy Burton and Deputies O’Cuiv and Maureen O’Sullivan who are in the Chamber.
It also includes Deputy Haughey.
Excuse me, it includes him. 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. The idea is to broker regeneration solutions that can be supported by all concerned.
The site around the national monument extends from Moore Street to the Carlton cinema on O’Connell Street and takes in most of the ground, laneways and buildings in between. It is largely in the ownership of a single entity and equates roughly to the area that the Bill envisages would be given national monument status. Some of it is quite run down, parts of it are underutilised and it needs significant investment and vision to get it back on its feet.
In facing this challenge, the Moore Street advisory group has as its guide, "The Moore Street Report - Securing History", which was produced by a consultative forum that was set up by my predecessor after the original High Court judgment, of which Deputy Tóibín was also a member. The report, which was unanimously approved all by the members of the forum, including the Deputy, set out a range of recommendations designed to ensure there would be appropriate recognition of the history of the street and its part in the Rising and that this would be reflected in the regeneration of the Dublin central site. The Moore Street advisory group is actively engaged in meaningful and positive discussions with the owner of the Dublin central site about the implementation of these recommendations and the future of the site.
I was pleased to learn from the chair of the advisory group, Professor Tom Collins, that these discussions are going well and are progressing positively in the main. I understand that there is now a formal framework for engagement between the advisory group and the site owners.
This provides for open and frequent meetings between the parties to discuss options, to explore opportunities and to review progress. I am also aware the owner has significantly modified the previous plans for the site which may have been a motivating factor for the Deputy in drafting the Bill some time back. The revised plans for the Dublin central site now being drawn up by newly appointed architects are seen to be much more sympathetic to its traditions and history than was the previous development conceived back in Celtic tiger days. They also envisage keeping buildings that were not part of the earlier design.
The new plans have been shown to the members of the advisory group and the Deputy will have seen them. The chair of the advisory group is on record that the members were entirely supportive of what was now being conceived. The extent of the design change being contemplated may be gauged from the recent statement by the company indicating that it believes that a fresh planning approval will be needed and that this would be applied for next year.
The talks between the advisory group and the landowner were possibly a bit slower to get under way than what some stakeholders would have preferred. That may also have been part of what prompted the drafting of the Bill some months back. Perhaps the Deputy did not believe back then that the owner would engage to the extent that is happening now and to such good effect. Matters have indeed moved on considerably since then. In the meantime, there have been several meetings between the landowner and the members of the advisory group which have provided valuable opportunities for both sides to sketch out their ideas and principles of what would work best for the area for the future.
I am delighted the revised plans are so respectful of the history and culture of the area and that they strongly embrace both its past and the street traders who give the area much of its character and appeal. What is now in prospect is a much more sympathetic mix of residential, commercial and public realm. This is backed up by the chair of the advisory group whom I met recently and who told me the new vision has been positively received by the members of the group.
The developer is also in discussion with my Department on possible cultural uses within the Dublin central site. This is another facet of the change of direction from the previous development proposal to an outlook now that would welcome more cultural and public space uses within the site. My Department is looking into possible options, particularly within the Gaeltacht and the culture divisions, and in consultation with the Office of Public Works.
In light of all the foregoing, I am convinced that, rather than progressing Deputy Tóibín’s Bill, the future of this part of Dublin city would be far better served by all the stakeholders and Members, the Deputy included, continuing to engage with and supporting the ongoing process that is making such positive progress under the stewardship of the Moore Street advisory group. The group is talking to and engaging meaningfully with the owner of most of the area encompassed by the Bill. Real headway is being made to reshape the regeneration plans for the area in a way which is respectful to local culture, history and, in particular, to the events and traces of the 1916 Rising.
Apart from the new plans being more sensitive to history and heritage, they also have huge employment potential. Figures relating to what is now being planned indicate that it would generate up to 9,000 jobs. While 6,000 of these would relate to the construction phase, the other 3,000 would be long-term, permanent jobs based in the locality and be open to the local community. With a new planning application envisaged for next year, construction to start in 2020 and the redeveloped site to open in 2023, these jobs would come on-stream relatively quickly and give a significant boost to the whole economy of Dublin’s north inner city in a timescale to which we can all look forward. While I accept there may be a positive sentiment behind the Bill, it is not necessary, helpful nor useful at this time. It would not actually achieve anything worthwhile in terms of monument protection either. Suffice to say, the Bill would be no more than an ineffectual gesture insofar as how it would interact with the existing national monuments legislative framework.
We have an amendment to a generally applicable legislative provision for the sole purpose of dealing not only with a single issue but with just one individual case. It is an amendment that quite simply does not work from a legal or procedural point of view if its actual intention is to bring the streets and buildings referred to in it under the protections of the National Monuments Acts. If that is the objective that it also envisages, which I believe is an undesirable proposition, then the development of a large section of Dublin north inner city would be determined by the Minister responsible for the National Monuments Acts rather than by local representatives and the local authority under the planning system. That is hardly a good idea and hardly a development the Deputy’s party would favour either.
It is also the case that I am in the process of bringing forward a comprehensive revision of the National Monuments Acts which I would hope to see before the Oireachtas in the next few months. This will provide a much simpler and more effective way of recording and classifying historical monuments. There will be an opportunity for all Members to input to that process if they perceive there is a need to look at how the updated protection regime would measure up against any specific challenges on the ground. That is another reason I do not consider such a limited and case specific amendment appropriate or necessary at this point.
All the advancement of this Bill would do is to create an unnecessary distraction and introduce an unhelpful diversion into the discussions now under way with the owner of the Dublin central site under the aegis of the Moore Street advisory group. These discussions are going well. They are yielding positive results and they have the potential to produce an outcome that will revitalise this whole area. The Deputy hardly wants to jeopardise the 9,000 jobs that are in prospect. Up to 3,000 of these would be permanent and located in the constituency of the leader of his party. Does the Deputy think that is what the community wants? Does he believe that the present stagnation is what the street traders want either? I imagine they all want to see a renewed and vibrant area with thousands of people working in it, drawing in many times more visitors to contribute to and grow the economy and the supports and amenities that would follow. The Bill would certainly do nothing to bring that prospect forward. In fact, I would fear the opposite.
I want instead to give my support to the real prospect there is now of a positive meeting of minds between stakeholders to continue to encourage these parties to go on with the discussions through the Moore Street advisory group in order that we can all look forward to the beginning of the regeneration of this area which everyone has been crying out for some time.
The buildings at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, complete and original, are in the ownership of the State. The Government is ready to bring to fruition the restoration and 1916 commemorative centre project as soon as there is an agreed vision for the wider site of which they form part. I want to protect these buildings, which include key locations from the 1916 Rising, for the Irish nation and all its citizens and in honour of all those who took part in the Rising. The commemorative centre will complement the new visitor centre in the GPO. If we take a snapshot of that entire geographical area and consider the GPO, the proposed 1916 centre in Moore Street, the tenement museum in Henrietta Street, the proposed development of the Abbey Theatre and the Parnell Square central library, along with the connectivity between those sites, there is the potential for a huge lift for Dublin’s north inner city area. I want to help rather than hinder that.
Against the background of all the positives I have outlined, in particular the significant headway made by the Moore Street advisory group whose work is currently at a key stage, I am afraid that the Deputy’s Bill can only be seen as having the potential to upset all that progress. It could also put at risk the chances of a successful outcome in the future. In turn, this could endanger investment in the regeneration of a significant part of Dublin’s north inner city with all the consequences this entails for employment and for economic gain for the local community, for the street traders and for local businesses which must be struggling in the present situation.
For that reason, the Government cannot agree to Second Stage proceeding while the work of the Moore Street advisory group is still ongoing and while it has a real and genuine prospect of succeeding, none of which the Bill would help if it were to continue at this particular time.
There are six ten-minute slots remaining and that should ensure everyone will have enough time to contribute. I call Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan. Does the Deputy wish to take ten minutes?
Yes. A number of us here have been consistent and persistent in raising the issue of Moore Street. I have used opportunities during Leaders' Questions, other questions and Topical Issue debates to discuss it. However, it has been a while since we had a discussion on Moore Street and a positive aspect of Deputy Tóibín's Bill is that we have this opportunity to discuss it this evening. Moreover, the Minister has had an opportunity to speak, for the first time in the Chamber, on the issue of Moore Street.
It is incredible that, on the one hand, the historic street site was allowed to degenerate, become neglected and fall into disrepair in the way that has happened but, on the other hand, it is not so incredible because we know, for example, that Kilmainham Gaol could have become an office or apartment block were it not for a number of committed activists. We know how much of our history we have lost in Dublin and in other parts of Ireland. Sadly, some of that was done wilfully and in that respect Wood Quay springs to mind. We can treat historical sites, monuments and buildings in a very good and sensitive way, and we see that in Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse, Newgrange, Collins Barracks, Richmond Barracks, Glendalough, Clonmacnoise - there is an endless list. There is also, as the Minister mentioned, the Tenement Museum at 14 Henrietta Street, which she opened last week.
With Deputies Tóibín, Ó Cuív and Haughey, I have been a member of the Moore Street consultative group, which was set up by the then Minister with responsibility for this area, Deputy Humphreys. It was a highly representative group comprising members of all political parties, independents, relatives, support groups and the Moore Street traders, and operated under the very able chairmanship of Gerry Kearney. The group worked in a collaborative way holding public consultations, taking submissions and arranging presentations. Thirty one people agreed a report that was launched in March 2017. We were all on the same page in endorsing the report and its vision for the development of the Moore Street battlefield site as part of a historical cultural quarter that would capture "that moment in time experience". Such experiences are also captured when one walks into Kilmainham Gaol, Newgrange, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Auschwitz or Dachau. That moment in time experience in Moore Street gives a sense of how it was for those who evacuated the GPO and moved to Moore Street. It also should give that sense of a moment in time for the citizens of Dublin who were working and living in Moore Street, and for five of the signatories of the Proclamation who spent time there before the surrender and their eventual execution. Preserving that was endorsed by all of us, as was the regeneration of the Moore Street market to its full potential.
I believe that Moore Street and the surrounding lanes fall under the heading of a national monument, not just the designated national monument at Nos. 14 to 17. Anybody who walks the route from the GPO will be struck by the many incidents that took place on Moore Street, the surrounding lanes and in the historical buildings other than Nos. 14 to 17, as referenced in the Shaffrey report commissioned by Dublin City Council and the Frank Myles battlefield report commissioned for Chartered Land. I will give just one example, 10 Moore Street, which was the point of entry for those evacuating the GPO and the location of the overnight stay of the leaders and the field hospital where the wounded were treated by Nurse O'Farrell and Julia Grennan.
The recommendations of the report of the consultative group are clear and can be realised. That is what we need to do to move on. The then Minister, Deputy Humphreys, accepted the report with its recommendations. In a press release issued in March 2017 she stated: "I believe that the recommendations in the Report can help find a way to breathe new life into the Moore Street area, while at the same time retaining its sense of history and enhancing its traditional street market."
The few traders left on Moore Street describe their position as being "on their knees". They are very fearful for their future and whether they will continue to have a presence in Moore Street. In the case of one particular family, three generations have been trading from their stall and they are very fearful. The continued lack of movement on addressing the Moore Street street is adding to their anxiety and certainly not helping them. The then Minister also said the following in her press release: "I am fully supportive of this constructive approach and I want to see the work of the Group being built upon, so we can progress to the next stage." I advise the current Minister, Deputy Madigan, that we are at the next stage. I am on the new group and there has to be engagement with the developer. The lack of engagement is part of the reason the process is moving slowly. The unfortunate reality is that a large part of the street, the historic battlefield site, is in the hands of private developer. I wish that were not the case and the State had bought the street and surrounding lanes. However, we have to live with the reality of where we are now.
Hammerson, the private developer involved, has engaged with the group. It took some time but I have to say the company has a much better grasp, insight and knowledge of the historical and cultural significance of the area. I believe we can work together at this stage in the collaborative way we did in the period leading up to the report. I am convinced there will be aspects on which there cannot be compromise but there are areas on which compromise can be reached. However, this will depend on involved - the State, the public representatives, the relatives and support groups, the local authority and the developer - showing a willingness to compromise.
Point 12 of the recommendations states: "As the ultimate custodian of our history, culture and history, as well as the provider of key services, the role of the State in the future of Moore Street and its environs is critical." Therefore, it comes down to the Minister and what she will do to support the group in implementing the recommendations.
I understand where Deputy Tóibín is coming from with his Bill and I agree with the sentiments contained in it. However, I also believe we have to support the Minister's amendment to see what support she will give to the forum to allow it move ahead on what needs to be done. The Minister stated we have to wait for the broader vision. Why can we not start with Nos. 14 to 17 now? Money was spent on securing the roofs of the buildings so some work has been done. However, the buildings are fragile and the longer they are left without restoration, the more potential there is for damage. I do not understand why we have to wait. It would be welcome if work were to start before winter to ensure the buildings are restored in the most sensitive way possible. We need a timeframe from the Office of Public Works, OPW, as to when it will get involved. There is a recommendation on timeframes in the report.
Another phrase in the report is that "it is essential to maintain momentum". We lose momentum once a report is published. It is important to get momentum going again and the Minister has a critical role in achieving that. While I want to accept her amendment, I also want to hear what has happened with the recommendations in our report. Has the Cabinet accepted all of them? Has the Minister discussed the issue with the Minister for Finance? We need to see much more support for the advisory group. At the very least, there should be more regular contact with the Deputies on the group. The Minister should also meet the group. I suggest she walk the battlefield site with the relatives because that gives a great sense of what happened on the site and its importance. That is even more urgent now because of the plans for the Parnell Street quarter, which were unveiled last week, and there are also plans for Mountjoy Square. There is a danger that Moore Street will be left again. Many mistakes have been made on Moore Street in the past. It would be good to get a commitment on timeframes and what exactly will happen to the Moore Street site. That would give us back the initial momentum we had.
Cuireann sé áthas orm deis a bheith agam cúpla focal a rá maidir leis an mBille seo. Táim thar a bheith sásta go bhfuil sé á phlé sa Teach. Creidim féin go bhfuil sé fíorthábhachtach ní amháin na láithrigh atá gar do Shráid Uí Chonaill ach gach láthair a bhaineann le 1916, chomh fada agus atá siad fanta anois, a chaomhnú agus a athnuaigh. Is ceann de na rudaí gur mhaith liom a fheicéail ná go mbeadh leacht soiléir curtha ar na foirgnimh ar fad a bhain leis an Éirí Amach. Ar ndóigh tá spéis faoi leith agamsa in ionad bácéireachta Uí Bheoláin. Chomh maith leis sin, is rud é nach n-aithníonn daoine go ginearálta ná go raibh Halla an Bhaile i nDroichead na Dothra lárnach san Éirí Amach. Ar ndóigh tuigimid faoi Clanwilliam House - nach bhfuil ann níos mó, faraor géar - ach sílím féin go mba cheart go mbeadh, ar a laghad, leacht ar na foirgnimh seo ar fad agus ar an gcineál ceann céanna ar fud na cathrach.
I am delighted to be here with my two colleagues. It is fair to say to Deputy Browne that Wexford has been involved in risings going back to 1798, and it was very involved in the Easter Rising. I am particularly pleased to be here with my colleague, Deputy Seán Haughey, whose grandfather, Seán Lemass, was in Moore Street in 1916. I often tease Deputy Haughey by saying Seán Lemass was one of the young people who was involved in the criminal damage to the buildings we now wish to preserve. I am sure he, as a young lad of 16, was one of the more active members of the squad that put the tunnels through the walls.
I believe the court case was a watershed. It is a pity it had to come to that but I believe it had great importance. After the court case and the fallout everybody accepted the principle that Moore Street should be preserved. Unlike Deputy Tóibín I believe the Court of Appeal got it right because the national consequences of the High Court judgment, which were non-specific to Moore Street, could have been disastrous right around the State. One of the things to come out of that was the Moore Street forum where people from all sides, views and political parties got around the table and in a very short time produced this report. It basically cemented a clear vision, on a cross-party basis and involving all the relevant groups, that incorporated the key elements of the court case. Recommendation No. 3 of the report states:
The Group supports the retention of Moore Street and adjacent lanes so as to broadly capture the sense of how it would have appeared in 1916 – this covers the street and lanes, key buildings, street paving and lighting. It recognises that this needs to be approached on a practical and authentic basis given that a number of structures in place actually postdate Independence. The preservation of the existing lines of the street and the lanes and the restoration of streetscapes are essential.
Recommendation No. 4 states:
The retention of historical structures and of the line and form of the block 10 – 25 Moore Street is also integral to this approach. Collectively these buildings can offer a mix of cultural, historic and commercial spaces. Quite critically, opportunities arise for the State to provide the centre point of historical focus and cultural celebration within 10 – 25 Moore Street.
In those recommendations there is a clear manifesto of what the new advisory committee is setting out to achieve. I believe the only way we can do that is in trying the collaborative approach of sitting around the table with the group that owns an awful lot of the land in the area. What this group does on the rest of that land also has an impact on the Moore Street area. For example, the original Chartered Land permission was for a very high building that would have overshadowed everything in Moore Street. The current proposal is much more modest.
As the Government amendment outlines, I believe we should keep with the processes we have put in place. The initial forum clearly sets out a vision and our job now is to deliver on that vision. They should be able to do that without hindrance. I agree, however, that there has been a long break between the end of the previous forum and where we are today, without the kind of progress all of us would like to see. We need to get a new dynamic and energy going. It has taken a long time to bring Hammerson to the table, and I regret that. A confidence building exercise was needed and I believe there was a change of mind about interacting with the forum, and recognising that the forum uniquely has a wide variety of voices involved in it and is reflective of a wide variety of views. I accept that Hammerson is now at the table and we should go forward.
I have been involved in many projects during my life and there are always the bumpy moments or the delays one wishes did not happen. When those things happen, the challenge is not to walk away or go off on some tangent but to stick with a good process that will bring results. I believe that we should now lay out our work programme on how to go forward.
I agree with a lot of what Deputies O'Sullivan and Tóibín have said. It is time for us once and for all to do a professional survey of the whole street from Nos. 10 to 25 to find out, without question, exactly what is in all those buildings and to get full agreement with the advisory committee on what aspects pre-date 1916. We also need to keep in the frame that there are certain places where replication of what was there might be appropriate. We need to keep the streetscapes as they were but we also have to balance that with the reality that we need to have a viable development on that site to finish its dereliction once and for all.
I agree with the need to have an immediate plan for Nos. 4 to 17, which are in State ownership. I ask the Minister, Deputy Madigan, that there would be intensified engagement with the State because in the national development plan the State has made provision for a possible new site for a museum. I believe this site has the footfall and it is near the Luas and rail lines. There is also talk of an Irish language cultural centre and I understand from what the Minister has said that this should certainly be considered for this area. We need to move forward speedily with that proposal in the national development plan.
While the Bill may find itself in a situation where there was not continuous and successful engagement with the developer, some have said that the plan may go back to the Chartered Land permission. In that scenario, where we would have engaged in a meaningful way and if they were to walk away and take the nuclear option, the Bill may then be needed in a hurry. In the meantime we are much better to work through the advisory committee, working steadily in the process that we all agreed to and working collaboratively. It is fair to say the Bill was never discussed in detail by the advisory committee. We need to work collaboratively. It takes great patience to do it that way. If we can get agreement from the developer and from every party at the advisory group table, and if we all go forward together, then I would be hopeful that we could see the restoration of Moore Street to what we all dream of. I do not believe that anyone here is of a different view. I believe we are all agreed that we could see the development of Moore Street in a way that fits in with history rather than a continuous stand-off that leaves the street as one of the most derelict and neglected parts of our capital city so near to the GPO. We will support the Government amendment on the basis that at this moment we should not deflect. As Pearse said in his poem, ba cheart dúinn ár n-aghaidh a thabhairt ar an mbóthar seo romhainn - I think we should keep our focus on the road in front of us and not get deflected. If we do that collaboratively we will be successful in ensuring a sympathetic development of Moore Street and the O'Connell Street area.
I wish to share time with Deputy Gerry Adams.
I put it to the Minister, Deputy Madigan, that the fact we have to stand here today not just to debate but defend this Bill is a damning indictment of how the Minister's party and Government views the sacrifices that were made by Ireland's revolutionary heroes. It is nothing short of scandalous. It is more than possible that the Minister or I would not be standing here today representing the views of our respective constituents but for the bravery of the men and women who took on the British Empire in the course of the Easter Rising in 1916. How a Government that was elected by the people as custodians of our heritage could even consider, or worse facilitate, the bulldozing of one of our most precious national sites is beyond belief.
No other state or government worldwide would ever consider destroying its heritage to allow a developer to speculate for profit.
The handling of this issue by the Government has been nothing short of a disgrace. Our heroes of 1916, those brave souls who sacrificed all for the birth of our Republic, must be turning in their graves wondering what it was all for if this is the way their struggle is to be remembered. To drive this matter through the Irish courts, along with relatives of our patriot dead, to railroad a commercial development and destroy the remembrances of our heroic past is a national betrayal.
I applaud, as I have done in the past, the relatives of our heroes, along with others, who protested, occupied, highlighted or presented in court to stop the shameless intent of the Government that would reduce this revolutionary quarter of our capital city to worthless rubble. We have so much to be thankful to them for.
There were two welcome outcomes arising from the relatives groups' pursuance of their cause through the courts. First, a stop was put on the destruction of the battlefield site and the surrounding buildings. Second and of most importance, it is now without doubt and clear as day following the Government's Court of Appeal case that the power to designate this significant battlefield a constituted monument site of national importance lies solely within the Minister's power. I note that she has submitted what I can only view as a blocking amendment. I am sorry that others seem to think it is the appropriate thing to do to support it. It is a blocking amendment to the Bill that purports to favour allowing the Moore Street advisory group "to continue and conclude its deliberations". No one is seeking to prevent the group from continuing its work; on the contrary.
I wish to record my sincere appreciation for the 1916 Relatives Association, the Save 16 Moore Street Committee, the Save No. 16 Moore Street Committee, the Moore Street traders association, my fellow elected Deputies from across the political spectrum, including those who have spoken today, and all those councillors who have invested their time and energies in this group over a long period.
I put it to the Minister that there is a deep flaw in her interpretation of the current situation. The Moore Street advisory group was set up in September 2016 on foot of the initial court case taken by the relatives in January 2016, which determined that the area was the site of the last battle. The Government's appeal in February of this year determined that the power to issue preservation orders lies in the hands of the Minister rather than in the hands of the courts. Therefore, I suggest that the work of the advisory group can contribute to the site's future. In fact, I commend that it does. The truth is, however, that there is no inhibitor whatsoever preventing the Minister, along with the Government, from recognising the Moore Street battlefield as a site of national importance. The Minister can finally correct her Department's and the Government's woeful treatment of these revolutionaries' legacies and the hard work and campaigning of their relatives. She can do the right thing and designate this site here and now. It is within her gift.
I commend the Bill to the House and I thank my colleague, Deputy Tóibín, for introducing it.
Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis na daoine a bhí ag obair ar son na cúise seo, go háirithe gaolta na bhfear agus na mban a bhí páirteach san Éirí Amach. I pay homage and thanks to the Save Moore Street groups and the 1916 relatives, and I express solidarity with the Moore Street traders.
It is a scandal that we have not developed a proper and appropriate national monument on the Moore Street battlefield site. It is a metaphor for the state that we are in and says it all - private developers rule. More than 100 years on since a small band of men and women took on the largest empire in the history of humankind and made a proclamation that set out a republic, one that is yet to be achieved, successive Governments have yet to develop the site as other states in the world would have.
The Minister lauded the Government's 1916 commemoration. Revisionism rules. Yes, the 1916 commemoration was a wonderful success, but mostly because of the great enthusiasm of those people who organised many events in Ireland and abroad in a real sense of patriotic and national pride in the men and women of 1916 and the republic they proclaimed. Does the Minister remember the video that the Government used to launch its programme? It did not even mention the leaders. Such was the outrage that the Government had to change tack. It was well done eventually.
The Government is once again being sly in how it is dealing with this Bill. It is not opposing the Bill, but it is kicking it to touch by tabling an amendment that blocks it from proceeding to Committee Stage.
The Minister has a responsibility - I believe it to be an obligation - to protect national monuments. She has the authority to vest that status on the Moore Street battlefield site. It is what she should do. She described the Bill as an "ineffectual gesture" and "unnecessary distraction". What have her Government and its predecessors been doing for the past 100 years? What have they been doing since I entered the Dáil? Why did relatives have to go to court? Patrick Pearse had a phrase for it: "Mór mo náir. Mo chlann féin a dhíol a máthair." The Minister should change her mind, support this Bill and, as is appropriate, develop a national monument on the battlefield site at Moore Street.
I grew up in Enniscorthy under Vinegar Hill on songs and stories of 1798 and 1916. The tricolour first flew in Enniscorthy on 7 March 1848, the same day Thomas Francis Meagher flew it in Waterford city. A plaque was erected at the cathedral in 1968 to mark that event. There is a great deal of history and heritage in my home town of Enniscorthy.
The Moore Street area is a central part of our heritage, and it is critical that it be preserved appropriately to honour the sacrifice of those who fought for Irish freedom and self-determination. The historic buildings associated with the 1916 Rising at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street and the surrounding areas must be protected.
For those of us in Enniscorthy, the Athenaeum is our GPO and Moore Street combined. It was built as a town hall and theatre in 1892, and there is a proud tradition of theatre in my home town. In March 1916, Patrick Pearse visited Enniscorthy for the commemoration of Robert Emmet and made a fine speech in the Athenaeum. The 1916 rebellion began in Enniscorthy in the early morning on Thursday of Easter week, with the Athenaeum in the centre of the town as its headquarters.
The republican tricolour flew for a week over Enniscorthy in 1916. My great-grandfather, Andy Putty Doyle, and the grandfather of Fianna Fáil councillor, Keith Doyle, also called Andy Doyle, marched together from the Shannon side of the town to Enniscorthy town centre. Fianna Fáil Councillor, Barbara Anne Murphy's grandfather, Philip Murphy, was also involved in freeing the town that day. By Saturday morning, 1,000 insurgents had been mobilised in the town and surrounding areas. I want particularly to mention the women of Enniscorthy in 1916. When a republican flag was hoisted over the Athenaeum when the rebellion began and was saluted with a bugler and a firing party, three women hoisted the flag who were members of Cumann na mBan. They were Greta Comerford, Una Brennan and Marion Stokes. Cumann na mBan set up an emergency hospital and kitchen. One member claimed 70 or 80 women were billeted in the Athenaeum during the Rising. The diary of Sean Etchingham, a future Minister, conveys the sense of liberation and exhilaration experienced by the volunteers in Enniscorthy:
We had at least one day of blissful freedom. We have had Enniscorthy under the laws of the Irish Republic for at least one day and it pleases me to learn that the citizens are appreciably surprised... a more orderly town could not be imagined. The people of the town are great.
When a copy of Pearse's surrender was presented to Seamus Doyle, the officer in command, and his officers in the Athenaeum, he refused to believe it. Both he and Sean Etchingham applied to the British officer in command, Colonel French, for permission to travel to Dublin to see Pádraig Pearse for confirmation. Surprisingly, Colonel French agreed. Pádraig Pearse, in Arbour Hill prison, confirmed the surrender to Etchingham and Doyle. Pearse agreed to sign a written order to Wexford volunteers confirming that surrender and Doyle and Etchingham brought it back to Enniscorthy. The volunteers duly surrendered. The garrison leaders were marched from the Athenaeum in Enniscorthy to Wexford town's military base and almost 400 rebels were arrested, including prominent Cumman na mBan members. The Athenaeum in Enniscorthy was beautifully restored in advance of the 1916 commemorations to mark and remember its theatre traditions and its 1916 traditions. I hope that Moore Street can be preserved with the same dignity and respect with which the Athenaeum in Enniscorthy was preserved and I hope the Minister has an opportunity to visit the Athenaeum in Enniscorthy some time.
I will comment on the contribution of my colleague, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, and thank him for the huge effort and commitment he has made to dealing with this matter, which was beyond the call of duty. His grandfather was involved and he has a significant interest in all matters concerning the Easter Rising. He has been particularly active about saving Moore Street and we are all grateful to him for that. This was the birthplace of the Republic and 14 to 17 Moore Street is a national monument. All of us are calling for the preservation of the entire Moore Street terrace. As a Dublin City councillor between 2014 and 2016, huge pressure was brought to bear on us to sell 24 and 25 Moore Street to Chartered Land. Had we yielded to that pressure, planning permission would have been brought into force, there would be a huge shopping centre now in place there, and much of the terrace would have been destroyed. It was not the finest hour for city management but thankfully there were enough of us Dublin City councillors to prevent the disposal of 24 and 25 Moore Street. We are talking about a battlefield site and laneways of history. All of it must be preserved.
I sit on the Moore Street advisory group and we produced the report with recommendations of how we should proceed with the matter. I join with other Deputies in praising the Moore Street traders. Moore Street and the trading which takes place there are synonymous with Dublin but they are fighting against authority and bureaucracy all the time. Dublin City Council management has not been particularly supportive of them by providing basic services such as a tap for running water. They seem to be fighting all the time over little issues like that to preserve their trade. It is great to see the recommendations in this report to enhance and preserve what they are doing. As Deputy Ó Cuív said, my grandfather, Seán Lemass, was a young volunteer in the 1916 Rising, based in the GPO. His brother, Noel, was based in the Imperial Hotel opposite the GPO. He had to evacuate the GPO when the call came to do so. He wrote a vivid account of his activities during those few days and has spoken about how they went into 10 Moore Street and had to tunnel their way through the houses down Moore Street. Those tunnels and the holes in the wall are still there. I have been fortunate enough to have a viewing of the national monument, 14 to 17 Moore Street. It is emotional to see those tunnels still there and it brings to life just what those brave men and women did at that time. My family would be disappointed in the lack of progress with the matter. Everybody knows what has to be done and, from the point of view of the Lemass family, we need to proceed with this and we are disappointed with the lack of progress on the issue.
Like other speakers, I would like to praise the relatives' groups. Were it not for them, that massive shopping centre proposed by Chartered Land would now be in place, dwarfing the national monument. They fought a long battle and it was good to see all the various groups of relatives from different backgrounds coming together in that forum to produce the recommendations which are now there for action by central and local government. The site itself and the area around O'Connell Street is in a terrible state of dereliction. This does not reflect well on central and local government and heads have to be knocked together to bring this project to fruition. I agree with others that we need to work together. There is a vision in place and a collaborative approach is needed. A process is in place and it would be outrageous if this opportunity was squandered.
It was difficult to get all the interest groups and interested parties together to produce one report and to sing off the same hymn sheet. Those who gave up their time voluntarily are becoming impatient with the lack of progress with this. It is important to engage with the new owners. We have to accept what they have said to us in good faith. I hope we can get down to teasing out the details of any new planning application that they will submit in the near future. I am disappointed with the lack of progress and interest shown by Government in this matter. Maybe the process was delayed while we tried to get Hammerson to the table but at the end of the day the company came willingly. There are many things the Government could be doing now. Funding is an issue for the mixed development proposed for the Moore Street terrace. As the Minister agrees budgets going forward, she needs to be conscious of the recommendations of this report and what public funding can be provided for, for example, an Irish language centre, as Deputy Ó Cuív has outlined.
The time has long passed for the regeneration of this site. The Minister must play a leading role in the matter. It would be great if the Taoiseach were to become more involved in the matter. A Taoiseach has great power in many respects and if he showed a personal interest in this project it would be helpful. He is a Dublin Taoiseach and this is a Dublin project, albeit with an important national dimension. I agree with the sentiments expressed by many speakers, in particular my colleague, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív. I hope we can make progress quickly on the issue.
I thank all of the Deputies for their contributions. I listened carefully to everything that was said and I acknowledge the more considered contributions that took account of the realities we are putting forward. While I accept the sentiments and the motivation behind Deputy Tóibín's Bill, I reiterate that the Government cannot support it.
I will pick up on a couple of points in the time available. I am pleased to hear Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan supports the Moore Street report. As she is aware the advisory group is working to implement it. The landowner is now looking at saving more existing buildings in the area and we have a chance to progress that now in a way that we did not before. I hope that will benefit all the street traders the Deputy mentioned. I am also pleased to hear her encouraging words about Hammerson's engagement with the advisory group. I appreciate her support. We will start with Nos. 14 and 17 as soon as we know what is agreed for the adjoining buildings. The buildings are being maintained by the Office of Public Works and funding for Nos. 14 to 17 should not be a problem. The Cabinet is aware of the developments and takes an interest and is very supportive of everything to do with the environs of Moore Street.
I note Deputy Ó Cuív's comments on Boland's Mill and Clanwilliam House. The new monuments Bill which I hope to bring forward before the end of this year will allow the buildings to be recorded as monuments. My Department is looking at what cultural uses we could insert into the wider development of such buildings. The Deputy referred, for example, to the Irish language. I appreciate his assessment that the new plans are better and worth pursuing. He mentioned the word "collaborative" a few times. I agree that is the approach to take. I also agree that Hammerson's was slow to engage but as the Deputy said, we need patience, and the company is now engaging, which can only be a positive thing. We can consider having a professional survey of Nos. 10 to 25 at some point. I thank Deputy Ó Cuív for his contribution.
Deputy Ó Caoláin is not present, nor is Deputy Adams. I appreciate Deputy Browne's support. I assure him that the State-owned buildings, Nos. 14 to 17, will be completed to the highest standard. I will also endeavour to visit the theatre in Enniscorthy. I thank him for the history lesson in that regard.
Deputy Haughey is aware that the terrace from Nos. 10 to 25 Moore Street is being examined by the developers. We know that the Moore Street report asked for the retention of the line and form of the terrace. I was interested to hear about his grandfather, Seán Lemass, and the history he outlined. We know the traders have primitive conditions and any solution must include them. Like Deputy Haughey, I have been unhappy about the delays in the progress of the project but I hope we are now on the cusp of a solution. It goes without saying that the Taoiseach does take a keen interest in the issue. The Deputy also mentioned the Irish language centre. That is something I am working on as well at the moment.
Overall, the group is engaging positively with the new owners of the site surrounding the national monument on Moore Street and it has put forward radical changes to what was previously on offer in terms of architectural heritage, urban regeneration, the community benefit and social amenity. It has also brought the commemoration of events relating to 1916 to the centre of the revised plans. I referred to future jobs and employment for people in the north inner city. The needs of the street traders have been long neglected and should be properly addressed. However, the Deputy's Bill would, unfortunately, make no contribution to any of those ideals and instead would divert and distract the stakeholders from focusing on securing a vision for the regeneration of the area with which everyone could be happy. We need to support the Moore Street advisory group in its work and not detract from the positive headway we have been making. We will not do so by advancing any legislation that puts a negative perspective on the real prospect that there is now going to be a happy outcome. For those reasons and what I said earlier, the Government believes the Bill is premature and should not proceed while the Moore Street advisory group that represents all stakeholders, including Oireachtas Members, has still to finalise its work. For that reason I cannot support the Bill proceeding any further at this time.
There is great disappointment on this side and among many of the campaigners with regard to the Government's decision on the matter. The only reason Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would refuse to recognise Moore Street as a national monument is to leave the door open to development in Moore Street that is not in sympathy with a national monument. If that were the case, Members would simply declare it a national monument today. The decision they are making with their vote is to leave the door open to the destruction of parts of a national monument.
That is not true.
That is true. For ages we have seen excuse after excuse from the establishment of this State for not simply making Moore Street a national monument. It is incredible. The parties will always find a reason.
I was told during the Government's appeal of the High Court case that it was not about Moore Street and its importance as a national monument, it was simply about planning issues that would lead to issues arising right around the country. At the time I suggested separating the Moore Street issue from that potential consequence. The Bill does exactly that. It separates the consequence of the High Court case that the Government pursued.
The art of politics in Ireland is to say one thing and do nothing or say one thing and do the opposite. The Government and the Opposition in terms of Fianna Fáil are saying they support Moore Street being a national monument but refuse to make it one. That is deeply frustrating because there is a cynicism involved in that regard. The honest thing to do would be to vote against the Bill on the basis of not thinking it is a national monument.
The truth of the matter is whether it is housing, healthcare, education or even the battlefield sites that gave birth to the Republic, there is a strain and instinct among the establishment that says, "Thou shall not inhibit private interests". There is always a deference to the private interests in the State. I believe there should be commercial energy within the State and a national monument allows for commercial energy but it must be in sympathy with the objectives of a national monument. It really is heartbreaking to witness the failure of another opportunity to finally protect the Moore Street area. Does the Minister think the national battlefield site at Moore Street is a national monument?
We will continue.
It is an interesting question.
It is of course.
It is the central question relating to the issue.
The Deputy is not allowed to ask questions at this time of the night.
I am not getting into a discussion.
The Minister is not going to answer the question.
There are no questions and answers.
I do not think the Deputy is clear about what a preservation order means.
There is no provision for a question and answer session.
We are already in conversation here.
We would have announced it at the beginning if it was intended to have one.
I will send a response to the Deputy setting out exactly what is the position.
I ask the Minister not to reply to me now but, rather, to send me a short reply by email stating whether she agrees that the Moore Street battlefield site is a national monument. If she, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independent Deputies all believe it is, let us make it such.
The fact is that-----
That is the sad thing. Members stood up here today and-----
I have answered that question.
The answer is in this document, The Moore Street Report - Securing History.
Members have lauded the campaign groups. The campaign groups want it to be recognised as a national monument. This is Irish politics to the core - saying one thing, embracing a campaign and then doing the opposite. There is no reason commercial development could not take place on the site if it is made a national monument. I want commercial development to take place on it because it will otherwise remain derelict as, by God, the State will not develop it. As Deputy Gerry Adams stated, 100 years have passed but the State has not developed the site.
Interestingly, the Minister referred to the inadequacy of the Bill. The current condition of Moore Street is inadequate. A quarter of our capital city, adjacent to some of its principal streets, is derelict. It is used for alcohol and drug consumption. People defecate on the street next to traders who are trying to eke out a living. The Minister is sitting on her hands yet she called the Bill inadequate. The Government should be ashamed of the state that Moore Street is in. That shame should engender a response. However, inertia is the response because the rule in this country is that if a private interest is involved in something, be it healthcare, housing or anything else, we must defer to it.
The forum is functioning but, as many Members indicated, it has hit a rocky stage in recent times. The owners of the land have met the forum possibly twice. I have been pushing hard for them to meet with members of the forum. I am not a purist in terms of the outcome here. I want a reasonable compromise. I do not want people to be arguing about the tiniest details forever. I want a result. The way to get a result is to set the parameters within which it can be achieved. National monument status is the relevant parameter.
Teachta Ó Cuív has raised The Moore Street Report - Securing History. That document is gathering dust. When first asked to sit on the forum, I was extremely cautious about doing so because my instinct was that the Government wanted to kick the issue of Moore Street to touch and believed that by filling the forum with many interested parties, it would create a talking shop that would go on forever. However, there is deep frustration on this issue and I guarantee that unless the Government grabs it by the scruff of the neck, we will still be discussing it in several years time.
The Government and Fianna Fáil have agreed what they wish to do on the issue. It is not new. This is so-called new politics. It is a pity. We will go back to the forum and do our best to resolve the issue of Moore Street being a national monument. However, this issue will not be dropped. Neither I nor many others on the forum will accept any development of Moore Street that does not take place as part of its being a national monument. Anything that is contrary to it being a national monument will not be-----
We are all agreed on that. It is all in this report.
If Members agreed with that report, they would vote in accordance with its recommendations. Unfortunately, they are refusing to vote to make those recommendations a reality, which is a pity.
In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 27 September 2018.