Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit chuig an Seanad. It gives me great pleasure today to introduce to the House on Second Stage the Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015. First, I wish to commend a few people who have worked tirelessly for the past 13 or 14 years, many of whom are in the Visitors Gallery this evening. Patrick Cooney has been involved in the Save 16 Moore Street campaign. James Connolly Heron and others have been involved in the 1916 relatives committee. I am also delighted that Proinsias Ó Rathaille is present. He is the grandson of The O'Rahilly, the only leader who was killed in action during the 1916 Rising. Others have also been involved. We have put a lot of work into this Bill and we hope for cross-party support from across the House to allow the Bill to pass Second Stage.

The Bill will provide the grounds upon which certain approvals may be made by Moore Street Renewal Limited, relating to existing or proposed buildings and premises in the Moore Street area, to provide that Moore Street Properties Limited shall be a development company for the Moore Street area and for the compulsory acquisition of land in that area by it, to authorise the Minister for Finance to guarantee borrowings by Moore Street Properties Limited, to make further provisions relating to Moore Street Renewal Limited and to Moore Street Properties Limited and to provide for connected matters. That is the official definition of the Bill. We have taken our inspiration from the Temple Bar Properties legislation from a number of years ago, which was very successful in taking a holistic approach to a designated area and to make sure that the area was developed appropriately.

The designated area envisaged for the company in this Bill is the Moore Street area which is, in effect, the most significant historical site in modern Irish history. I very much welcomed the Government decision to purchase Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. I said that at the time. However, more is needed in the sense that we must ensure 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. What we are talking about in this area is effectively the birthplace of the modern day Irish Republic. I, for one, wish to ensure that any development in the areas is done properly and sensitively and that it is not rushed on the basis of the fact that we have very important centenary commemorations next year. The project to properly develop Moore Street and the adjacent areas is one for the future to ensure that future Irish generations, not just those living in Ireland but from the diaspora, who have such an interest in Irish history, can come back to the Moore Street and O’Connell Street areas and see where the final stand of the brave men and women of 1916 took place. I, for one, wish to ensure that Nos. 14 to 17 are preserved, but more than that needs to be preserved. I do not want to see a huge shopping mall built beside the area. All of us, including the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, as someone who represents a Dublin constituency know the area very well. We wish to ensure that as the area is developed in the future it is conserved and preserved in order that we can be proud of it when we look back in ten years’ time and that we can say we did the right thing.

I had the great pleasure of dealing with many Dublin city councillors across all parties when the original proposal for the land swap was rejected, rightly so, by Dublin City Council. I commend all those councillors, including my own colleagues, Paul McAuliffe, Deirdre Heney and Seán Haughey, and those of all parties, including my Sinn Féin colleagues, who rejected that offer. That set in train this opportunity for us in the Oireachtas to mind the site and to develop it properly. This is the mechanism to do it. We have worked very hard to put the legislation together. It will give the Government at any given time oversight of what happens in the area.

When one looks back at the surrender of the leaders that took place in Moore Street and the last stand of the Rising, more than 100 volunteers broke out from the GPO and tunnelled into the Moore Street area for their last stand. James Connolly was injured there. The discussions took place on the surrender and the leaders decided they would surrender to ensure there was no further bloodshed visited upon the citizens of Dublin. That is a precious area. The blood of our forefathers was shed on Moore Street and it behoves us to ensure that what happens there is appropriate as it is a sacred place and it should be preserved in that manner. We do need to improve the area. It needs to be conserved and restoration work needs to happen. However, that does not all need to happen before the centenary celebrations next April. Certain things can be done to ensure the site is presentable. However, let us put forward a plan for the next generation, for my daughter and her generation, in order that they can have an input and that schoolchildren from across the country can come to visit the site and walk the laneways of one of the only intact urban battlefield sites we have. We must be aware of how important that is.

We also have an opportunity to ensure the economic regeneration of the area. I grew up in Dublin and as a child I remember going down to Moore Street and seeing the traders and all that goes with it. The Minister of State will be shocked to learn there are only 26 traders left on Moore Street.

We must ensure they are supported and that the markets there become a vibrant place, so more people will come to the Moore Street area and more people will trade there. This development Bill will designate the site as an area for urban regeneration and renewal. Taking into account the historical significance of that area, we must consider how best we can improve it, bring further jobs and life to it and improve the markets and how we can look after the traders, many of whom have traded there for generations. Six to seven generations of families have traded there and they are proud of their stalls and of the work they do. Unfortunately, they do not get the required support from Dublin City Council officials.

Allowing this Bill to pass through the House would send a clear message that we cherish this area and that the area is important. It is not just the buildings, but the people who live and work there. The north O'Connell Street and Moore Street area can become a major economic hub for regeneration in our city centre and breathe life back into an area that encapsulates so much of what old and real Dublin is about. I say that as a Dub and as Dublin spokesperson for our party. People who live in the rest of the city and the county of Dublin cherish that area. That is what this Bill will achieve. Consider all the work that has been done over the past 12 to 14 years. If people had not come forward 14 years ago, this terrace would have been demolished. The people in the Save 16 Moore Street campaign and the relatives groups campaigned against that happening, and I commend them for that. We are now discussing the first legislative measure designed to copperfasten that and bring their work to another level.

I do not claim that this legislation is perfect or that no other matters could be included in it, but that is something we could deal with on Committee Stage. I commend those from all parties, including my colleagues in Sinn Féin, who have been supportive of this legislation. That includes Independent Members as well. I know from speaking to Labour Party colleagues how they feel about this. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan and Deputy Joe Costello, whose constituency covers this area, and others have also been to the forefront on this issue. I believe the Seanad can do important work on this today. It will send a message to the city council that any existing planning permissions are, and should be, effectively frozen. There should be no further commercial development work in the vicinity of this site or in the area. The strongest way to secure that is to designate it as a historical quarter.

Consider everything we have further north into Parnell Square, Mountjoy Square and up to Glasnevin and the National Botanic Gardens, and when one travels from there through to the Liffey and on to Temple Bar, College Green and the surrounding area. We have the ability today to start a freedom trail in that area of Dublin. There can be no freedom or historical trail within the city unless the Moore Street area and its environs are protected, enhanced and conserved as they should be. Let us invite the experts in to carry out an independent battlefield survey. That has not been done up to now. I am aware that the Minister has a personal interest in this so let us send the message that we are serious about this matter. This could be a project for all of our school children. There will be important commemorations over the course of the next few years in respect of our founding fathers, the men and women of 1916 and the sacrifices they made right through to the War of Independence and the terrible tragedy of our Civil War. Let something positive, a living project, emerge from that - the living project that is Moore Street. In developing and conserving it we would breathe fresh life back into the city.

This is the city that the men and women of 1916 were so proud of that they decided to make their stand there to fight against the might of the largest empire in existence at the time. The sacrifices they made can be repaid in a small way here this evening by allowing this legislation to pass and by letting Oireachtas Members from all sides of the House work together on this, to bring about something of which the entire country can be proud. The political lineage and heritage of all Members comes from the men and women of 1916 regardless of their political party or whether they are Independents. All of us emerged from that. We want what is best for our city, heritage and culture.

I implore the Minister to accept this legislation. Let us work together with interested groups such as my colleagues in the Visitors Gallery, who have worked so hard and tirelessly over the years to secure something tangible. Let us get control of this area back into the hands of the Irish people. The commemoration of 1916 is owned by every man, woman and child in this country, so let us lead on this issue and show that we value its importance as the last place in which the Provisional Government of 1916 met before the tragedies that happened in the following weeks.

I will conclude with one thought. Consider Kilmainham Gaol and the people who worked on that for years with no funding or support. People thought it would never happen, but look at what we have. I realise more work must be done there but the people in the 1940s and 1950s came forward and said they would do this work themselves and ensure that Kilmainham Gaol would be there for all future generations. Now, thousands and millions of visitors and school children go there to learn about their heritage and their history. We should do the same for the area from the GPO through to Moore Street and have a living testament to the signatories of the Proclamation and the women and men of the Rising. Let us do something of which the women of Cumann na mBan and the volunteers of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army would be proud.

I again implore the Minister to accept this Bill. It gives me great pleasure to propose the Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill and I look forward to hearing the contributions from all sides of the House.

I join Senator O'Brien in welcoming his colleagues and the distinguished people in the Visitors Gallery.

Tá sé de phribhléid agamsa cuidiú leis an mBille sin agus cuirim fáilte Uí Cheallaigh freisin roimh an Aire Stáit anseo inniu. Mothaím dáiríre gur ócáid stairiúil atá anseo inniu. Tá seans againn ár meas agus ár mbród a léiriú do na laochra a chuaigh amach chun saoirse a bhaint amach dúinne i dtreo is go bhféadfaimis a bheith sa Teach seo inniu.

There is a sense of history here today, and one hopes it will be a proud and positive sense of history. I wonder what is going through the minds of the relatives of the 1916 leaders who are here today. Are they wondering why this debate is necessary? Are they wondering if we acknowledge, respect and appreciate the sacrifices made by the leaders and the men and women who participated in that struggle? I believe we do. In fact, everybody in this House and in the Oireachtas does, and the vast majority of the Irish people feel likewise.

We are on the eve of the centenary of the 1916 Rising, which gave us control of our destiny and the opportunity to develop our nation and State. It is worth recalling that the nation is not confined to the island of Ireland. The Irish nation is wherever Irish people gather, and there are 75 million people of Irish extraction spread throughout the world. There is no doubt that they will focus on next year with a degree of expectancy and hope. If we let the opportunity pass to do what is right regarding Moore Street, given its importance as a seminal aspect of our history, it will send reverberations throughout the Irish diaspora. It certainly will not go unnoticed.

I salute the Government for whatever it intends doing to commemorate and celebrate the centenary of the Rising. I was present in Collins Barracks when the programme was unveiled and published. There is no doubt there are many good events in it but if we think back to some of the environmental and planning issues in Dublin, which tended to demolish or undermine specific buildings here, none of them comes anywhere near what Moore Street is to us. If it happens that Moore Street is not preserved, enhanced and developed, and there are opportunities for doing it, there is no doubt that as that message spreads, not just throughout Ireland but abroad, there will be many questions to be answered.

Anybody who has walked on the battlefield site could not but sense the emotion that is attached to that area. We must consider that that was the start of the War of Independence, and we realise the outcome of the War of Independence. We have held the Presidency of Europe on two occasions, which would have been unthought of in 1916 as we strived for independence, but the only reason we have the trappings of State and the honour to stand in the Oireachtas is precisely because of what happened in 1916.

The reason this Bill is important is that it is not a stand-alone document. Many months and years of preparation and work have gone into it but what was lacking heretofore was that the legislation template for going forward was not laid out in a focused and detailed manner. It is all in this Bill, and I salute those people who are responsible for it. I also salute the people who headed this campaign and kept it going. I asked one of those members today if they get weary of it all and his immediate reply was, "Certainly not" because they sensed the goodwill of the people. The people are behind what is intended here. It is the political leadership that must now reflect what the people want.

If we are building a highway, for instance, we often have to go through areas with existing houses or remove hills to do that. We often have compulsory acquisition of property. All of those were complex procedures. Moore Street is a much more simple proposition and any excuses which may have been put forward in the past to delay this process no longer stand up. It is clear that the city council is behind this project. It is clear that the Oireachtas has the powers to do what is right, and the Bill is the key to open the door on the way forward.

I will not even suggest that it is possible that the Bill will not succeed here today because all parties, as far as I am aware, would be behind the principle of what has been put forward. I have a document before me which was signed by Deputies Joan Burton and Ruairí Quinn in support of what is happening. Even back then the Labour Party was to the fore in this regard. I have not heard anybody from any party saying this is not the right thing to do. The only thing we might hear about are some of the difficulties or some minor legal threat. All of those can be overcome simply by legislation, and the detail of the Bill has foreseen all of those types of issues.

I would suggest, and Senator Darragh O'Brien put it exceptionally well, that no party wants to claim ownership of this project because if that happened we would diminish the importance of what we are trying to do. There are no political kudos to be won from this project but we can create a sense of unity during the centenary and send a message, loud and clear, that we did everything that was right, took every opportunity which came our way and responded to that.

If the Minister believes there are some elements of the Bill that need to be fine tuned, that can be done but it is the only thing on the table at the moment. What has been put forward piecemeal for Moore Street does not work and is not acceptable. Nobody seems to want it, therefore, we have to go back to the drawing board.

None of us expect that what is intended for the full development of that area will happen in time for the centenary but there are two things that can be done. We can ensure that the buildings are secured. We can ensure that they are properly maintained but it must also be put down on paper, with no deviation possible, that the full programme will be implemented even within a two year or a three year span. That is not an insurmountable problem for anybody who has the goodwill towards this project.

Anybody who wants to have a proper celebration of the centenary of 1916 does not want to buy into a revisionist policy and sees us as a distinctive nation in our own right, which produced men and women who put their own lives, and the lives of their families, at stake, not for any mercenary gain or spotlight but because they knew it was right and they did it for all the people. It would be unimaginable if in any way we did not realise the opportunity being presented to us as legislators to do what is right, in a generous way, and in a manner that will not be ridiculed by our own people at home and worldwide.

The Minister is very welcome. I am pleased to speak on the Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015 and generally about Moore Street. I feel as if I grew up on Moore Street because during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Moore Street was very much part of my life and my culture. I remember being dragged into town by my dear mother to F.X. Buckley to get the steaks for our Sunday dinner or our turkey for Christmas. I remember at Christmas time my father, who worked for Breen Electrical, putting up the Christmas lights on Moore Street and Henry Street. As a young teenager I worked on a truck in the fruit markets on the other side of Capel Street and I used to wheel the fruit dollies down to the traders. I even bought the bangers there at Hallowe'en on the odd occasion. Moore Street was the heart of Dublin and the location of the oldest fruit, vegetable and fish market. It is a landmark. The fruit and vegetable stalls were fantastic, and one always enjoyed the Dublin wit and friendly welcome one would receive on each visit. There was always a Molly Malone feeling about Moore Street.

I decided to take a walk to Moore Street earlier in preparation for this debate. The sun was shining. The area was packed with people walking up and down from Grafton Street, Westmoreland Street and O'Connell Street. They were happy, drinking their coffees and chatting away. There was a great sense of peace and freedom among the people we passed. As I walked along the battlefield trail from the GPO, along Henry Street, and then turned right turn onto Moore Street, I noted it is vastly different now from what it was in 1916, and even 1966, when I first visited the area.

The properties at Nos. 14 to 17, including No. 16, have dilapidated rooms. On the facade it states "Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916", or Easter Rising 1916. Beneath the signage there are crumbling walls and pigeons were flying in and out through shattered windows. The shutters were down but on the cobblestone street, people were vibrantly walking around.

There are fewer Dubliners around there today than there have been and it seems to be the melting pot of our society in Dublin. There are people of many nationalities from around the world, of different races and creeds. Nevertheless, the fruit, vegetables and fish stalls remain with the Dubs. Looking at the terraced buildings along Moore Street, one would be quite proud of the history witnessed there all those years ago. The only thing out of sync in Moore Street is the Ilac Centre and Lidl. Having read through the Bill today, it seems the main objectives are unclear with regard to compliance with the current Dublin city development plan process and the objectives for the inner city area.

As far as I am aware, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is concerned about this. Her responsibility is for the national monument between Nos. 14 and 17 Moore Street, and particularly No. 16, the location of the final council of war of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. These premises, commanded by Pádraig Pearse, along with James Connolly, Tom Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Seán MacDermott and Michael Collins, were surrendered to the British forces. The house at No. 16, together with the surrounding buildings, Nos. 14, 15 and 17, were declared a national monument by the Government in 2007. This area has been referred to as Ireland's Alamo, or the birthplace of the Republic. In March this year, the Minister announced that the Government is to acquire the national monument. A 1916 commemorative centre is to be developed at the site and there are plans under way to safeguard and fully restore the buildings as a public historical facility, with access for citizens and tourists. Only yesterday evening, Dublin City Council voted to protect five more buildings along this battlefield trail, so we can see that people are quite conscientious about preserving the area around Moore Street.

Fianna Fáil is proposing in this Bill that the Government should set up a development company for the Moore Street areas. I have a bit of a problem with this. Fianna Fáil has been in power for the majority of the time since 1916 and, in looking to set up Moore Street Renewal Limited, do the party's members not recall the similar moves for Temple Bar and the Dublin docklands? The Temple Bar Cultural Trust had to be dissolved over concerns about financial irregularities, and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority folded after a report containing damning findings, one of which related to the decision in 2006 to become involved in the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site. The DDDA was found to have very weak corporate governance, resulting in the loss of value for the taxpayer.

Fianna Fáil should know that this approach does not work. Why does it want to create another quango for the Moore Street area? How much would these plans cost the taxpayer? The Government's policy is to devolve more responsibility to local authorities and not take power from them. This ensures efficiencies in the delivery of public services and more value for money for the taxpayer. The Government has every confidence in Dublin City Council, which already has ongoing plans under way to reinvent and rejuvenate the Moore Street area, in consultation with the street traders. This consultation is very important, as they are a symbolic and intrinsic part of the character of Dublin.

The future of the national monument buildings referred to on Moore Street has been secured and they will be accessible in order that everyone can learn the history of the 1916 Rising. This Fianna Fáil Bill has no basis because the establishment of a new limited company is unnecessary and would take responsibility from the local authority. Funding for these development companies would have to come from central government funds. That would not work and it would end up costing the taxpayers. We want to protect the buildings and find the right way forward. Next year we will celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising and, unfortunately, as I walked away from the area today, I said that something must be done. We cannot afford to get this wrong. I watched cheerful people going by in a happy-go-lucky fashion. I thought that I should finish by saying this freedom in Ireland is what our forefathers fought for. We need to preserve Moore Street but we need to get that process right. This Bill does not do that.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak about the commemorations and what the State is doing. I appreciate the motivation behind the Bill. As Senator Darragh O'Brien has quite rightly stated, this is something on which we can have a cross-party discussion on how best to move forward. I know the issue intimately as I used to represent the north inner city area on Dublin City Council. One of the first meetings I attended when I was elected to the council in 2004 concerned the saving of No. 16 Moore Street. Much has happened since, thanks to the previous Government and recent announcements by this Government. No. 16 is the key building and most people focused on it, but the focus has moved to the declaration of the national monument by the previous Government in 2007 and the announcement of a decision made earlier this year to acquire the four buildings for the State. We have come a long way in a short space of time.

This is a fantastic opportunity in the history of our Republic as we face the centenary of 1916 to reassess what we are about as a country. We should consider the values of this Republic and what we believe in. There are many people in our society who need this commemoration. I am thinking of the people on the edge of society. In this Chamber, for example, we have discussed direct provision, the national drugs strategy and those suffering from drug addiction and issues relating to disadvantage. We have discussed people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities and new communities. There are many people, including children, living in the country who have no familial connection with what happened in 1916, as some would, but who need this commemoration. It will lead to a new evaluation of the values that underpin our Republic. Many of the commemorative events planned are focused on what we want for the next 100 years. We must have a proper investigation of what happened 100 years ago in order that people can appreciate the sacrifices made. We must never shy away from the reality that 1916 was the birth of the Republic in which we now live. It is also important that we constantly reimagine and reaffirm those values written into the Proclamation, including equal rights and opportunities for all our citizens, cherishing all the children of the nation equally. I have a family connection with 1916 but I do not consider myself in any way having more of a claim over those events than anyone else, and no one else is making that suggestion. We need to appreciate what happened in that week but we must ask why we are doing this. We are doing it to ensure we can have a proper appreciation of the values that must underpin the modern Republic in which we all live.

In responding to the Bill I want to be as open-minded and positive as I can. I appreciate that the motivations behind it are sound, decent, progressive and forward-thinking. Much of this contribution must be quite technical but I hope it will add to the debate to give reasons that the Government is not in a position to accept the Bill.

The primary aim of the Bill is to establish two new limited companies known as Moore Street Renewal Limited and Moore Street Properties Limited, respectively, to provide the grounds on which certain approvals can be made relating to existing or proposed buildings and premises in the Moore Street area and to have a development company for the Moore Street area. The development company will have functions for the compulsory acquisition of land in that area, and the Minister for Finance will have a power to guarantee borrowings by Moore Street Properties Limited.

Unfortunately, while appreciating the constructive motivations behind the Bill, the Government does not support it for a variety of reasons which I will outline. First, I have to point out that the role of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is primarily concerned with the protection and conservation of the national monument comprising Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. The Minister has no role in planning and development in the wider Moore Street area, which is the preserve of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in conjunction with the relevant local planning authority or other designated development authority. It could be foreseen as a conflict of roles where, on the one hand, the Minister is charged with safeguarding our built heritage, notably the national monument on Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and, on the other hand, would be supporting development that could adversely impact the national monument and other historic buildings or fabric in the Moore Street area.

Second, when it comes to urban development and regeneration my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, has primacy but his Department is already active with various initiatives that beneficially affect the Moore Street area and the proposed Bill would only serve to complicate rather than streamline the various measures in place. For example, in 2012, the Government published Putting People First - Action Programme for Effective Local Government. At its core, this programme seeks the local government system to be the primary vehicle for overall economic and community development at the local level, including the regeneration aspects of that brief. That action programme, more widely, sets out an overall vision for local government to be the principal vehicle of governance and public service at local level, leading economic, social and community development, delivering efficient and good value services, and representing citizens and local communities effectively and accountably.

Consistent with this overall vision, Government policy is to build on the local government process and not to establish separate or parallel public bodies or organisations distinct from the local government system unless, in exceptional circumstances, the need for this is clearly demonstrated. The proponents of the Bill may suggest this is an exceptional circumstance but that is why we are here having this discussion.

As previously outlined by Senator Eamonn Coghlan, with the dissolution of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and the preparations in place to transit Temple Bar Cultural Trust to local authority control, which were established by previous Governments to pursue regeneration of large components of the overall structure of the Dublin City Council area, and at a strategic level, regeneration initiatives have moved on to a new phase that build on enhanced local authority capability in this area rather than setting up new bodies.

Third, under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, Dublin City Council as both local government and planning consent authority is the most appropriate entity to manage the ongoing development of this important inner city area of Dublin. Already, sections of Moore Street and the auxiliary lanes are within the current O'Connell Street architectural conservation area, ACA, designated in July 2001, and the O'Connell Street area of special planning control adopted by Dublin City Council in September 2009.

The main objectives of the Bill are unclear in terms of compliance with the current Dublin city development plan process and objectives for the inner city area of Dublin. In part, such a development approach as proposed in the Bill could be impractical given the variation of private, commercial and publicly owned properties within its remit, and the process involved in setting up the supporting statutory provisions could be difficult.

Also, the size of the area in question and its variation of property types does not, on a practical level, lend itself to the type of development model envisaged. Management of a national monument is best developed, managed and promoted as specific proposals in tandem with Dublin City Council and other key stakeholders.

The mechanisms I have outlined operate within the wider policy framework of the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017, which is currently under review.

It remains open to the city council to prepare a statutory local area plan for the area under the provisions of the Planning Act, for which Dublin City Council would be the relevant authority to oversee implementation of such a plan. Therefore, an extensive array of planning policies and actions has been put in place for which the city council is the statutory implementation body. Moreover, after extensive levels of scrutiny at local authority and An Bord Pleanála levels, a planning permission for comprehensive redevelopment is in place, within which arrangements have recently been agreed as regards the securing of the 1916 Rising related national monument.

Taking all of the above into account, the local government planning policy and development consent, and conservation policy and implementation issues pertaining to this area, have been broadly settled and it is therefore unclear what additional clarity or impetus could be brought to the accepted need for the regeneration of this area over and above the role of Dublin City Council. I have full confidence in Dublin City Council to manage the area using the policy already settled and the measures already in place.

Fourth, I have already mentioned that Government policy is to build on the local government process and not to establish separate or parallel public bodies or organisations distinct from the local government system. However, there is a much wider dimension to this, and there is a context for it in terms of the previous Administration's tenure. That Government commissioned the officially named Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programme, An Bord Snip Nua, to examine, among other issues, the rationalisation of State agencies with a view to saving money in the delivery of services. Those same principles still apply today and it would be more than remiss of this Government were it to support a proposal to set up a new company with a board, a chief executive and staff which would represent an additional and costly layer of administration and which is at variance with current Government policy aimed at rationalising public services so as to deliver such services in an integrated, transparent and cost-efficient manner.

While I appreciate the good intentions behind this Bill, and the contributions of all Members this evening have been worthy of the debate - we should continue in that way - I am of the opinion that the current approach taken by the Minister and the Government in acquiring the national monument on Moore Street, which was greatly applauded at the time, is the correct approach and should be commended. I am confident that this will protect the buildings for the Irish nation and its citizens. The buildings and the proposed interpretative centre on that site will be a fitting commemoration of the 1916 Rising and its leaders and will complement the new visitor centre being developed in the GPO.

If we take a snapshot of that entire geographical area and consider the work ongoing on the interpretive centre at the GPO, the proposal for an interpretive centre in Moore Street, the tenement museum in Henrietta Street, the proposed development of the Abbey Theatre and the Parnell Square central library, that entire centre, and the connectivity between those sites, will lift the north inner city area. The north inner city area is worthy of that. It needs it. The city of Dublin needs it. Our nation needs it and, as I stated at the outset, future generations need it as well.

While I appreciate the motivations behind the Bill, commend those who have drafted it and understand what they are trying to do, we do not believe that a new model is necessary. The proposal the Government has put in place in terms of acquiring the four buildings from Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street was a positive move. That is the vehicle in which we should proceed. A huge amount of work has taken place in the past ten years from the time of the original campaign to the designation of the national monument by the previous Government in 2007 to the acquisition of the four buildings.

I appreciate Senator O'Brien's point that we should not be doing this as a rushed measure to get something done for next Easter because it is hoped this will last for the next 100 years. However, we want to be able to say next Easter that something identifiable is taking place at this site and that we are moving to a space where we can have a proper understanding of the motivations behind those who fought in 1916 and the Republic in which we now live. I believe we have the mechanism now to achieve that. We are further along the way than we were this time last year. I believe the vehicle the Government has put in place is the appropriate one. Reluctantly, I am not willing to accept the Bill today but from the huge attendances at the consultation meetings taking place in communities around the country to the cross-party involvement in the various committees that have been set up around the commemorations, I believe this commemoration is owned by everybody in this land. It is not being used as a party political football, and that is to our credit in this House. I hope it will continue in that vein.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáít chuig an Teach agus cuirim fáilte roimh chuile duine atá ag breathnú orainn agus ag éisteacht linn chomh maith. I welcome all our distinguished guests in the Gallery. I welcome the opportunity to further discuss the development of the Moore Street area. I am aware that several people have been collecting signatures.

Up to 10,000 signatures have been collected to support a sustainable development that would retain the entire 1916 Moore Street terrace. There is also support for the regeneration of the area, particularly to keep the integrity of the street market and small food shops and to bring them to life. The save Moore Street from demolition campaign will host an "arms around Moore Street event" on Sunday, 28 June. The organisers want to encircle the Moore Street terrace and fill the Moore Street area with people who care. I am aware of what is happening in this extraordinary and historic area. Thousands of people lived and worked in the area, which can been seen in the 1911 census. Its terrible to think that over 300 men were crammed into the small terrace which only consisted of 15 redbrick houses and two dozen people died on the street in 1916.

I welcome the fact that Senator Darragh O'Brien and his Fianna Fáil party raised this debate. I was moved by his vision and response to why he wanted to move Second Stage of the Bill. My worry, and it is no reflection on him, is that Fianna Fáil has a penchant for going it alone in terms of development areas of which Temple Bar and Dublin docklands are examples. Senator O'Brien eloquently outlined his vision but I do not see it in this document, which has left me feeling nervous.

I was the director of the Projects Arts Centre in Temple Bar in the 1990s and, thankfully, my predecessors bought the centre so it was retained. At the time I saw a lot of cultural organisations being railroaded and shifted out of the area. I saw local artists and co-operatives being driven out of the area for commercial gain that operated under the guise of a national government agency of which the sole shareholder was the Minister for the Environment. I am curious to know why the Bill has been presented as belonging to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when it should be the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

I witnessed at first hand a Government desecrate Temple Bar and strip it of essential communities, particularly artists and local communities who worked in the area. I do not think the then Government intended to do so. I firmly believe that the original intention of Temple Bar Properties was to develop the area as a cultural quarter. Unfortunately, it chose the commercial route of developing huge bars and retail areas that have now dwarfed the original gentle, creative and imaginative area of Temple Bar which was there before it became a national development area. That is what worries me about this Bill.

I have seen no statement of vision or imagination in the Bill. I would support the Bill if it contained what Senator Darragh O'Brien just spoke about. There is no guarantee that his view will come to pass. I have seen what happened to Temple Bar, which is now managed by Dublin City Council. Significant cultural organisations in the area are under threat because it has been proposed that they should manage the maintenance of the buildings. Suddenly, the very foundation of the funding and sustainable future of some of these cultural organisations is in trouble.

The Minister of State mentioned other adjoining areas. Let us look at what has happened with the so-called cultural quarter of Parnell Square, plus Moore Street. The Carlton site has lain dormant for many years. There is the Abbey Theatre and Dance Ireland DanceHouse on Foley Street. There is also The Lab gallery on Foley Street which is run by Dublin City Council. There is an emerging cultural quarter and energy appearing in the area yet this Bill has not made an emotional or cultural connection to any of it. The legislation does not even mention anything-----

There is a mechanism to do so and this is a technical Bill.

-----about 1916. I commend the Government on purchasing Nos. 14 to 17 on Moore Street. The project will not only be a national monument but is guaranteed to be in public ownership. The Minister of State has been vague about what will occur beyond this initiative. Will the project be turned into a commemorative centre? We need to hear more about the matter.

I am concerned that the Bill lacks vision. The fact that the Senator has stated that he based the legislation on the Temple Bar area is of grave concern to me.

I based the legislation on the model.

I based it on the model.

The Senator said so. It is the same model and it is a cut and paste model, which I am very nervous about.

To conclude and to be clear, I shall not support the Bill but that does not mean I do not support the redevelopment of the Moore Street area. I support the buildings being bought. We need to speak to the local communities about broadening the project to include O'Connell Street and Abbey Street and to connect with Foley Street. I am afraid I shall not support the Bill because of my experience of working in the Temple Bar area.

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I welcome this opportunity to debate such an important issue. In particular, I welcome the many interested parties who are seated in the Visitors Gallery. I especially thank Helen Litton and James Connolly-Heron who kindly met me and briefed me on the issue yesterday. I also thank all of the 1916 relatives and relatives of the signatories of the Proclamation who have been so involved in the project.

I am conscious that there has been a long campaign to preserve Moore Street broadly. It is a campaign in which the Labour Party has been closely involved, and I speak as the Labour Party leader in the Seanad. Others have mentioned the Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, who added her name to opposition of a previous planning application. Deputy Joe Costello, and I think Deputy Ruairí Quinn was mentioned, and Councillor Dermot Lacey have all been involved in working towards the regeneration and preservation of Moore Street. I am very proud that the Labour Party, in government, has been party to the decision, which was finally taken on 31 March of this year, to purchase the national monument that is Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and to develop it, as the Minister of State has said, as a commemorative centre in time for the centenary next year.

Fianna Fáil put forward this legislation. However, it is noteworthy that no previous government has taken the step to purchase the buildings. In 2007, a previous government declared Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street to be national monuments but not the rest of the terrace. It is a crying shame that the decision to purchase these specific houses and to develop them as a commemorative centre, for the people of this State and future generations, was not done for the 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th or 90th anniversary of the Rising.

I have seen the photographs of the interior of the buildings for which I thank the people who briefed me on the subject. The photographs showed the appalling, shameful and dilapidated conditions of the buildings. A great deal of work needs to be done simply to preserve and make them fit to be visited. I refer to Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street which are the subject of the State's purchase decision. As we know, it was in No. 16 Moore Street where the decision to surrender was taken. The project also includes the building from which the founder of the Labour Party, Mr. James Connolly, was carried out on a stretcher. It was put to me in a very poignant way that Connolly, and some of the other signatories of the Proclamation, spent the last few hours of their freedom in those buildings. That is a hugely poignant and noteworthy statement. It is a shame that the project has not been done before. I welcome the fact that we have now moved to preserve and refit the buildings in a sensitive manner, as befits a national monument, and to make these buildings fit to be used for a commemorative centre.

I am conscious also, although I had not been aware, that the full terrace of Nos. 10 to 25, in a more general sense, is significant as it has remained intact since 1916, albeit in an appallingly dilapidated state. Also, much of the terrace did not have to be rebuilt after 1916, unlike the GPO and much of O'Connell Street. I would like to see the preservation plan further expanded in line with one of the plans that relatives put forward. The project would be attractive but the question is how do we go about it.

I am mindful of what Senator Mac Conghail has said. Initially, when I heard this Bill was coming forward I thought that the Government would be able to take it through Second Stage. I only saw the legislation today. When I read it I was dismayed, like the Senator, to see that it does not contain any indication of the plan put forward by the relatives to expand and develop more of the terrace as a commemorative centre. Instead, the Bill re-creates a model, as its proposer has said, along the lines of Temple Bar Properties.

Senator Eamonn Coghlan and others have pointed to the hugely problematic nature of that model. As a lawyer I must read the small print and I am struck by how little accountability there would be in the model contained in this Bill. There is provision for the appointment of the directors of Moore Street Renewal Limited by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, but there is a question as to why that Minister is involved when the broad Moore Street area is not designated as a national monument. There is no provision for the removal of the directors, for their tenure or for any type of democratic accountability by the company. I would be concerned about that model.

On the other hand, we have a model with Dublin City Council. The Minister has spoken of the initiatives that are being taken. One initiative I strongly support, as a client of Moore Street traders like many others, is Dublin City Council's reinventing and rejuvenating of the market element of Moore Street in consultation with the street traders. The council has a development plan process under way that will encompass the area. Senator Mac Conghail and the Minister have spoken of the other important initiatives alongside the initiative on the Moore Street buildings, including the initiative on the GPO visitors' centre, the initiative in Parnell Square and the tenement museum on Henrietta Street. I have confidence in Dublin City Council as the appropriate democratically elected body through which we should make proposals to create a proper and fitting commemorative centre in Moore Street.

There is huge support across the House for the spirit of this Bill and for the motivation so eloquently expressed by its proposers. However, all of us should work on two fronts: first, to support the initiative to develop Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street as a commemorative centre in time for the centenary year and, second, to work with Dublin City Council on the broader development of the Moore Street area in a fitting manner. That is the more appropriate mechanism.

I was privileged to take part in the wonderful commemoration on Easter Monday that was run by Dublin City Council and RTE, the "Road to the Rising". It commemorated not only the military history of 1916 but, importantly, the economic, social and living conditions of people and communities in 1915 and leading up to 1916. That social history and the commemoration of the deaths of civilians and children in the Easter Rising, which were not spoken about often until relatively recently, are the commemorations that are hugely meaningful to us and younger generations. I brought my children to O'Connell Street for that and I was privileged to speak from a tram about the suffragette movement, which was very important in 1915 and 1916. That is the type of inclusive and pluralist commemoration with which we should be involved and which Dublin City Council has been good and proactive in bringing forward.

I commend the proposers of the Bill for giving us the opportunity to debate the issue not just of Moore Street but more broadly how we commemorate 1916 and the struggle for independence, and I thank my colleagues for expressing broad support for their motivation and principles. I also thank the Minister for his contribution.

It is important that a dissenting voice is raised. The buildings are completely undistinguished architecturally and are in a very poor state of repair. Temple Bar Properties was invoked. I know all about Temple Bar Properties because I started the Hirschfeld Centre. There was absolutely nothing there beforehand; nobody had ever heard of the place. When we started a discotheque there and a community centre that had a restaurant, cinema, theatre and so forth, it brought many young people to the area who took up short-term leases. That led to Temple Bar, which was long before Charlie Haughey ever heard of it. Then these people came in and turned it into a tourist venue. I am not sure that is what people want.

Then there is Henrietta Street. All that can be done with the most superb street, architecturally, in this city is a tenement museum - what a farce.

I am aware of the presence of relatives and so forth in the Visitors Gallery, but it important historically to look at a different perspective on this. This was in the middle of a world war. That legally makes it treason. They ignored the commands of General Eoin MacNeill to cancel the Rising, so there is obviously an element of vanity about this.

I must make something clear because The Sunday Times, which is a rag owned by Rupert Murdoch, said that I had called the 1916 people terrorists. I never did any such thing.

I think the Senator called them traitors.

Plainly, they were not terrorists or anything like terrorists-----

Senator Norris without interruption.

I cannot hear interruptions-----

The Senator called them traitors.

I never said they were terrorists. I have just said they were traitors; I said it tonight.

That is okay. We are clear now.

Senator Norris without interruption.

It was during a world war. I do not give a damn what side one is on - technically and legally it is an act of treason. The Senator can hiss all he likes, but that is what I am saying. I am saying it because I am the only one who will say it.

Thank God the Senator is not the President.

General Eoin MacNeill countermanded the Rising. With regard to terrorism, of course they were not terrorists. They were poets, idealists and the like, and they called off the Rising because of civilian casualties. That is the reverse of terrorism. That shows a humanitarian concern, and I always credit these people with that.

However, what was the net result of it? There was the brutal and bloody Civil War and the bitter partition of Ireland. What do we have now to celebrate? We have a country that has accepted the gambling debts of the German and French banks and we have evictions. I do not know what there is to celebrate. What eventually emerged was a republic in which there is free speech and in which I am entitled to have a minority view of one. I had not intended to speak this evening, but the reason I did is so we can demonstrate that in this Republic there is at least a respect for freedom of speech. If that is what was won by 1916, I am all for it.

We should have free speech. Unpopular opinions should be listened to and respected. They should not be passed into law because if they are unpopular they are a minority and they have no place on the Statute Book. However, Seanad Éireann is a place where unpopular views should be permitted to be expressed. I realise I am in a minority of one, but Seanad Éireann is for-----

Kevin Myers would agree with the Senator.

-----the expression of these views, despite what Senator Daly would like to say in his inaudible interruptions.

Kevin Myers would agree with the Senator. He is in good company.

Senator Daly, you will have an opportunity to speak in a few moments.

It does not matter a damn who would agree.

In "The Mother" Pádraig Pearse spoke the following lines:

They shall be spoken of among their people,

The generations shall remember them,

And call them blessed;

But I will speak their names to my own heart

In the long nights;

The little names that were familiar once

Round my dead hearth.

This encapsulates the public and private elements of the sacrifice. Anseo inniú chuala muid Baill ag rá, "is the sacrifice recognised?" The answer was, "Yes, it is".

It is worthwhile to look at the programme of events. The Minister listed a number of the flagship projects and the State events, including national ceremonies and parades, cultural events and State receptions. There is a cultural programme and an educational programme. Submissions are still being accepted regarding how further events might take place. Indeed, I have been speaking with Senator Ó Murchú about perhaps enhancing the element of work for the Irish language as part of the 2016 commemorations. We have done fruitful work with Senator Daly on the consultative committee, and he has his own committee with Senator Ó Murchú with which we also work. What I hear from the people is that they want the celebrations and commemorations to be more exact, to be inclusive and to cherish all the children of the nation equally, including Senator Norris.

I agree that freedom of speech is hard won and anyone who defends freedom of speech will have my support.

I welcome the Bill and the opportunity to discuss Moore Street. I am a culchie and so my memories of Moore Street are not like those of Senator Eamonn Coghlan. They are of coming up from the country with my family, parents, brothers and sisters, and hearing this wonderful-----

We recognise culchies. They are as much a part of the nation as anyone.

He recognises culchies as second-rate citizens but nevertheless entitled to some recognition as human beings, I suppose.

There was the wonderful music of the street traders on Moore Street. We used to go for our duffel coats in Arnotts or somewhere like that and then go out to Moore Street to experience the wonderful colour and sound. I remember 1966 and "Insurrection" and seeing The O'Rahilly being gunned down. I do not think Cathal Brugha was shot on Moore Street but perhaps it was close by. My teacher told me he was shot during 1916, that he had 16 lead bullets in him and that every time he walked, he jingled. He said it was a pity he was then shot dead by fellow Irishmen. Those wounds have healed.

Moore Street is an important part of our heritage. If the Minister, the Department and the Government had not purchased Nos. 14, 15 and 17 Moore Street, we would be discussing a motion or Bill before the House today on that matter. The decision has meant that Moore Street comes into public ownership and the 1916 commemorative centre is to be developed on the site. It will be run as a public facility with access for citizens and visitors alike. This has put an end to the uncertainty surrounding the future of these buildings. It is hoped that the project will be completed during the centenary year as a fitting tribute to the leaders of the Easter Rising.

I acknowledge the presence of relatives of the men and women of 1916 in the Gallery today. All those families have contributed greatly to public life, business life and private life. They can be very proud. I am very proud now that I am the grand-uncle of the great-grand-niece of Eamonn Ceannt. I am delighted about that.

I have heard we are not going to vote for the Bill, but I recognise the sentiments around the Bill and the great contribution that Members on the opposite side have made to the 2016 commemorations.

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I pay tribute to my colleagues, Senator Darragh O'Brien and Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, as well as the families and relatives of the people of 1916 who have been pursuing this issue for a decade and more. I pay tribute to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party on Dublin City Council, including Paul McAuliffe, Seán Haughey and Daithí de Róiste, who have been pursuing this at council level.

Before we get into the meat of the issue, I thank the Minister of State for his involvement in the all-party consultation group on the decade of commemorations. A programme has been produced and, while we disagree on significant details in the case of Moore Street, the programme is comprehensive and something people have been seeking for a long time. I welcome the recent publication and announcement of the plans before Easter. I thank the chairman of the committee, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, who is doing an excellent job throughout the country. I have been at some of the meetings where she is promoting and asking communities to get involved in 1916 commemorations. I thank John Concannon who has been working tirelessly on the various projects.

What we are doing in 2016 is celebrating those ordinary yet extraordinary men and women who did an extraordinary thing on an ordinary day. They took on the biggest empire the world had ever seen and ultimately dealt it a fatal blow which eventually saw its fall. We are also celebrating the aims of the Proclamation, the equal rights, equal opportunities and civil and religious liberties that we spoke about 99 years ago. We are celebrating how far we have come and we are contemplating how far we have yet to go.

As a nation we are poor when it comes to celebrations. The leader on this side has spoken about Kilmainham Gaol. Kilmainham Gaol was to be demolished. That was the proposal of Dublin Corporation. It was in rack and ruin and the roof had fallen in. Only for volunteers, the predecessors of the people in the Gallery, the people who got together and decided that the situation could not continue, Kilmainham Gaol today could be a block of flats. Moore Street could have been in the same situation were it not for citizens getting involved.

I will set out my own experience on the GPO and the interpretative centre which, we are told by An Post, will be ready for Easter 2016. The initial proposal from four years ago was that there would be a foundation stone laid in Easter 2016 rather than an interpretative centre. I met representatives of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. They wrote a four-page brief on what needed to be done and the timeline required to get everything ready for 2016. The response from An Post was to ask what would the Smithsonian know about museums. I am pleased the Government has decided not to go with An Post and that the project will be ready, as it should be. Some 100 years on, the GPO is still a post office, yet if a person walked in there today, he would not know that the most significant event in this country's history took place inside that building. That is a travesty and, I suppose, a condemnation of previous Governments. In a similar fashion, the Moore Street monument was initially only going to comprise No. 16 Moore Street. I pay tribute to the then Minister, Dick Roche. He made it a national monument and added Nos. 14, 15 and 17 Moore Street. We are talking today about developing a battlefield site. As has been said, it is our Alamo in that it was the place of the last stand in 1916.

Others have spoken about redevelopments gone wrong. Certainly, there are governance issues in other development vehicles. People look at Temple Bar as if it were a disaster. There have been issues, but Temple Bar was due to be levelled and turned into Busáras. Previous generations made a decision not to do that and we are perfectly happy that it is there today and that it is a great tourist attraction. It is not perfect, but nothing ever is. The Ballymun redevelopment was an excellent redevelopment, as is Grangegorman. There are always redevelopment vehicles. This is simply a vehicle by which we can ensure future generations will enjoy what people enjoy today when they go to Kilmainham Gaol.

When one walks out of the GPO interpretative centre, the ideal situation would be to progress up Moore Street and onto Parnell Square ending up at the new redevelopment there-----

That is not in keeping with its character.

-----along with visiting the Garden of Remembrance. We are disagreeing on the Bill and that is unfortunate but we must remember the history of previous developments such as Kilmainham Gaol. Citizens such as those in the Visitors Gallery took action when politicians failed. Similarly, the GPO, a hundred years on, will be developed but only because people decided to act and say that a foundation stone on the 100th anniversary is not enough. Moore Street has come a long way from a situation in which it could well have been knocked to a proposal for No. 16 to be preserved to it then being made a national monument. Now we are arguing and disagreeing and losing this battle but the leaders of 1916 would probably agree with me when I say we might lose the battle but we will win the war.

Cuirim céad fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit agus cuirim fáilte roimh na haíonna speisialta atá in Áiléar na gCuairteoirí anocht. Is mór an onóir dúinne go bhfuil siad anseo le linn na díospóireachta seo. Táimid an-bhuíoch as an obair iontach atá ar bun acu leis an gceist seo a choinneáil dúisithe. I welcome all the guests in the Visitors Gallery and thank them for the incredible work they are doing to ensure this issue is still at the top of the agenda. They have our full support in that regard. Sinn Féin supports the spirit of this Private Members' Bill and will be voting in favour of it. We support any efforts to save Moore Street and to preserve this important historic site.

The people of Ireland, the Irish diaspora and friends of Ireland everywhere are looking forward to 2016, the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and the proclamation of the Irish Republic, a pivotal event in our history. It would be a national disgrace if, during Easter 2016 and the War of Independence and Civil War anniversaries which follow it, the 1916 battlefield site were to remain in the ruinous state it is in today. Today the buildings on Moore Street, which were the last headquarters of the provisional Government of the Irish Republic, have been left to slowly fall into ruin. This is despite having been designated a national monument since 2007. The buildings that survived British bombardment in 1916 and the 100 years since now face destruction from developers who plan to reduce them to rubble and build a shopping centre in their place. The deterioration of the national monument which has languished in a vacant and neglected state for many years and the potential threat to the national monument is a matter of serious concern to Sinn Féin and many other citizens.

Sinn Féin wishes to acknowledge that the dedication of the relatives of the 1916 leaders and those who have supported them in their campaign over many years has ensured that Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street have been saved so far from the bulldozers. Sinn Féin has always believed that it is totally irrational to allow a developer in NAMA to set the agenda in regard to the development of one of the most historic quarters of Dublin city. There are very serious questions yet to be answered regarding the dealings of the management of Dublin City Council with the various developers who have been involved in the site in question in the Moore Street-O'Connell Street area.

At the start of the Civil War in 1922, much of O'Connell Street was destroyed for the second time having been levelled six years earlier by the British Army bombardment in 1916. Yet, within a few years, the capital's main thoroughfare was rebuilt. For many years now, much of O'Connell Street Upper has been dominated by a huge vacant site - a gaping hole in the nation's main historic street. It has been in this condition for far longer than it took to rebuild much of the street after its destruction in war. The preservation of the national monument, Moore Street and the surrounding streetscape would allow for the development of a historic 1916 quarter encompassing the entire Moore Street-O'Connell Street area. This would have ample scope for commercial and retail development to rejuvenate this neglected part of our capital.

In view of this, while we support today's Private Members' Bill, Sinn Féin has its own vision of what we think should happen to this historic area. This vision is outlined in our document, The 1916 Revolutionary Quarter. Our view is that the buildings and lanes of history, where the last act in the drama of the 1916 Easter Week Rising took place, need to be preserved and enhanced. This part of the centre of our capital city needs to be cherished for its unique historical and educational value and for its heritage of revolutionary history. Sinn Féin calls on the Government, therefore, to make a commitment to protect, preserve and develop Moore Street as part of a wider historic quarter. The aim must be to frame a new plan, not only to preserve the national monument and the terrace in which it stands but also to develop the battlefield site into a 1916 revolutionary quarter, which would include the revitalisation and pedestrianisation of the associated laneways to increase shopping and tourist footfall.

The Government must examine fully all its options, legal and financial, to make this new plan possible. The block encompassed by Moore Street, Henry Street, the GPO, O'Connell Street and Parnell Street should be designated a revolutionary quarter. The national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street should be taken over by the State to form the centre point of the museum and interpretative centre. The quarter would have ample scope for commercial and retail development, helping to rejuvenate this area. A special aim would be to renew and sensitively develop the traditional small shop and street trading role of Moore Street. The 1916 revolutionary quarter could link up with the plan for the Parnell Square cultural quarter including the new central library, the Garden of Remembrance and the municipal gallery, thus rejuvenating this very important centre of our capital city.

In his last letter before his execution in Kilmainham Gaol on 8 May 1916, Éamonn Ceannt wrote, "[I]n the years to come Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour at Easter 1916". It is up to us and the Government to live up to those words.

I sincerely and from the bottom of my heart thank the 1916 relatives association for their persistence in getting the issue of Moore Street to the top of the agenda for 2016. I know for a fact that it was not really there. They were very difficult customers originally but now, given what I know, I compliment them on what they have done. Dick Roche, our then environment Minister, designated these houses in Moore Street a national monument. I compliment him as well. I am glad to note that over that short time, as the Minister said here today, the Government's acquisition of the designated national monument by Fianna Fáil on Moore Street was the correct approach and should be commended. At the meeting this morning with the relatives, I felt the bottom line was that, while people are aware that the money is not currently available to invest in a proper dedication, they wanted to ensure that it would be protected and minded until that time comes.

As Senator Coghlan said, the area from the GPO to Moore Street is a battlefield. It is the site of the battlefield of the Rising. Unlike my colleague, Senator Daly, my father continually brought me and my siblings to the GPO to see the bronze scuplture depicting the death of Cú Chulainn and which was put there to commemorate 1916. The GPO is the centre of the Rising to me. That is how I was reared.

I must be honest and say that Henry Street and Moore Street are just like any other European street. There is nothing particular about them. They are common commercial streets which have been ignored by political parties over the years. We have to face that fact. Now is the right time, in 2016, to dedicate the street, including the designated buildings where the Rising was fought out in the end. The people in Dublin City Council who were behind today's Bill did it in good faith. Despite the criticism of the Government, it was done in good faith. Councillor McAuliffe is to the right of me. In the spirit of it having been done in good faith, I will support my colleagues on it. However, Henry Street and Moore Street are just like any other street in any European city. There is nothing distinctive about them.

It should be born in mind that Temple Bar today is not what Mr. Charles Haughey as Taoiseach meant it to be. He meant it to be a cultural centre like Montmartre. I do not see anything special about it. Immigrants and stag parties seem to think it is a great place to visit.

(Interruptions).

Will Senator Norris please restrain himself?

I find it appalling.

I would not tell them.

To me it is just a pub quarter. If Mr. Haughey was still around, he would have kept it in the spirit he intended but, as happens so often in Ireland, it was allowed to deteriorate and become an unattractive area to visit.

In their innocence, people from abroad think it is a fabulous place and come to visit it, but it was not the intention of Mr. Haughey as Taoiseach to allow it deteriorate to the state it is in now.

I welcome the Minister of State and also the relatives of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. Once again, we are experiencing living history in this debate. I compliment the Save Moore Street campaign, the members of which have been outside the gates this evening, as well as being in the Visitors Gallery. They have distributed a leaflet which reads:

A property speculator was to demolish most of the Moore Street terrace in order to build a shopping mall through from O'Connell Street. The Government has given Mr. O'Reilly the go ahead, with some conditions, including to renovate only four houses that were declared a national monument after campaigning, but which Mr. O'Reilly has allowed to deteriorate to a shocking degree. Although he owes NAMA €2.8 billion and is retained on €200,000 a year to manage these debts, he has also been promised another €5 million from NAMA for his restoration of the four national monument houses - a token museum of four houses, a cafeteria and toilets. These will be dwarfed by a glass and concrete monstrosity around and over them and the character of the street market, if it survives at all, changed forever.

Will the Senator, please, refrain from naming individuals in the House?

That is the basis for and what the Bill is about. It was tabled by the leader of the Fianna Fáil group, Senator Darragh O'Brien, and is supported by Fianna Fáil representatives throughout Dublin, some of whom are on Dublin City Council and here today, and the Save Moore Street campaign. This is living history.

I wish we would take a leaf out of the book of our American cousins when it comes to the preservation of national monuments. If one visits Washington, one will see that it is a living monument. I remember going to the Ford Theatre some years ago, where President Lincoln was assassinated. Not only is it a national monument, but the house across the street from it, to which the President was taken and where he died, is also a national monument. Part of the street is also a national monument.

I had the pleasure of visiting Springfield, Illinois some years ago. Not only has the house in which Abraham Lincoln lived prior to leaving Springfield to become President of the United States been preserved but the entire street from the 1850s has also been preserved. It has been left as it was in the time of President Lincoln, not just his house or those of his neighbours but the entire street and landscape. The vista has been left intact for people like me who want to experience the history of the area and understand what life was like and the environment in which he lived. That is what the Save Moore Street campaign is about, but it also has an added resonance.

We are privileged to have among us the grandson of The O'Rahilly. The O'Rahilly has Leitrim connections outside my town of Drumshanbo; therefore, I have a particular interest in his life. It is important to mention that on 28 April 1916, with the GPO on fire, he volunteered to lead a party of men along a route to Williams and Woods, a factory on Great Britain Street, now Parnell Street. A British machine gun, at the intersection of Great Britain Street and Moore Street, cut him and several of the others down. He slumped into a doorway on Moore Street, wounded and bleeding badly, but on hearing the English marking his position, he made a dash across the road to find shelter in Sackville Lane, now O'Rahilly Parade. He was wounded, from his shoulder to his hip, in sustained fire by the machine gunner. To their eternal shame, for 19 hours the British left him to die. Even when an ambulance driver and his assistant came to remove him, a British officer refused to allow them to do so. In other words, they wanted him to have a painful death, physically and emotionally.

That is just one of many incidents that happened in the area about which we are talking. At 8 p.m. on Friday, 28 April 1916, with the GPO engulfed in flames, the forces of the newly formed Irish Republic retreated from the building and endeavoured to make their way to the Four Courts garrison. They left the GPO by the side entrance on Henry Street and made their way under constant sniper fire to Moore Lane. The following day, on Moore Street, having stayed overnight in the houses about which we are talking, Pádraig Pearse who, through a shattered window, had seen a family while carrying a white flag - innocent civilians - brutally shot down by British forces decided they must surrender. Connolly agreed that the imminent risk that further lives would be sacrificed should not be tolerated. However, the leaders argued, wrangled and pleaded to convince themselves that the fight could be continued. It must have been a terrible time. Seán Mac Diarmada is reported to have said to the volunteers around him who did not wish to surrender that, at worst, the leaders would be executed. Therefore, they were facing their own death. The frail, grey haired 58 year old Fenian Tom Clarke openly wept as the final decision was made to surrender.

The task of conveying the message to the enemy was entrusted to the dauntless Elizabeth O'Farrell. With Captain O'Reilly's handkerchief tied to a piece of stick, she passed through the doorway of 15 Moore Street and bravely walked down the street of the dead. That is what it is called - the street of the dead - the street we are asking to be preserved as a national monument. The British military assisted her over the barricade and conveyed her to Tom Clarke's little shop on Parnell Street. There, General Lowe demanded that within half an hour she return with Pádraig Pearse to the Moore Street barricade, insisting that unconditional surrender was only acceptable to him. At 2.30 p.m. Pádraig Pearse, in his heavy military overcoat and slouched hat, marched towards the barricade, with Elizabeth O'Farrell by his side. The iconic photograph of the handing of the surrender terms to General Lowe does not include her, but in a wonderful documentary on TG4 approximately 18 months ago the photograph was separated by digital means. It is an extraordinary manifestation of what happened that in a sense Elizabeth O'Farrell was written out of history, yet she was was there on that day and part of history. Pádraig Pearse was received by General Lowe, to whom he handed his sword, pistol and ammunition. He also handed him his tin canteen which, I am told, contained two large onions, obviously to sustain him through the week. An old wooden bench was brought out onto the footpath outside Byrne's shop, at the corner of Moore Street. Here, Pádraig Pearse stooped and signed the documents of surrender which had been placed on it. Elizabeth O'Farrell agreed to their joint request that she deliver the documents to the various Dublin outposts. Without speaking but with a smile, Pádraig Pearse grasped her hand for the last time.

At Moore Street headquarters the volunteers were stunned to learn the terms of the surrender. Most of them insisted on fighting to the death, but Connolly was adamant that his boys would not be burned to death. The men began to gather on the street, the street we want to preserve. Forming ranks with sloped arms, the first group marched off under Captain O'Reilly, picking up stragglers along the way. Willie Pearse headed the main body, waving his white flag. Close behind walked Tom Clarke, while towards the rear were Seán Mac Diarmada and Joseph Plunkett, supported by his brave comrades, Julia Grennan and Winifred Carney. Leaving 16 Moore Street, the temporary headquarters of the Provisional Government of Ireland, these weary warriors marched to a prison cell or a grave. They were the spark which lit the fuse that will continue to burn until Ireland is united and free.

I am grateful to a website which acknowledges that Shane Mac Thomáis wrote most of this information for a walking tour of Dublin and on the 1916 monuments. The narrative has moved me sufficiently to argue that, irrespective of all the other arguments made in this debate, there is unquestionably no argument to be made against preserving not only the houses but also the entire streetscape of Moore Street for future generations.

Ba mhaith liom tréaslú leis an méid atá ráite anseo tráthnóna ag mo chomhghleacaithe agus, ar ndóigh, leis na focail deiridh atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Mooney, a rinne cur síos ar an tábhacht a bhaineann le forbairt agus fad saoil a thabhairt do Moore Street anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath, áit stairiúil a bhfuil baint aici le bunú an Stáit seo. Tá baint ag an tsráid sin le saoirse na hÉireann agus le cuid mhór daoine a throid ar son na tíre agus a fuair bás ar an tsráid sin. Measaim go bhfuil dualgas ar an Rialtas aitheantas a thabhairt don tsráid sin anois, leis an bhforbairt atá leagtha amach ag an mBille atá curtha os comhair an Tí anseo tráthnóna a cheadú.

The words of my colleague, Senator Mooney, were moving. One can only imagine the horrendous situation faced by those who left the GPO and fled to Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street in their attempt to escape the onslaught of British fire. Some of them, including the O'Rahilly, never made it. The significance of Moore Street cannot be overstated. If it were located in a large city in any other country which achieved independence in a similar manner to ours, it would be recognised as a beacon of light and hope. Instead, however, the families of those who died on Moore Street have had to plead with the Irish State to give this national monument the recognition it deserves. It was only recognised as a national monument in 2007. I commend the families and welcome their representatives to the Visitors Gallery. They are here because they believe in the cause for which their forefathers fought. We are able to speak in this Parliament because of that struggle. We have an independent sovereign nation thanks to the actions of those who gave everything, including their lives, on Moore Street.

This issue has been highlighted by Fianna Fáil councillors and other representatives in Dublin. I commend Senator Darragh O'Brien in particular on bringing the Bill before the House. Criticism of the Bill was thrown across the House in an effort to pick holes in it but I do not see any alternative coming from the Government. It can claim credit for purchasing the properties on Moore Street from NAMA but there is no point in leaving them in a state of disrepair and decay. We should recognise their significance and honour the men and women of 1916 by turning the buildings into a living monument. Other speakers have referred to our struggle for independence from Britain, which lasted hundreds of years and culminated in that week in 1916. A plaque outside No. 16 Moore Street commemorates the first meeting of the provisional government and the decision to surrender. We should respect those events. Perhaps previous governments should have recognised its significance but we can do something about it today. It will not cost a significant sum of money because the decision to purchase has been made.

We are putting forward a strategy for establishing a management company. International evidence indicates that a management tool as proposed in this Bill is a recognised way of managing monument sites. Italy, which is a world leader for managing and promoting heritage sites, has conducted research in this regard. The Bill therefore offers a means of developing a project for the street.

There is a growing hunger among tourists to visit monuments and rich cultural sites throughout the world. Cultural tourism is at an all-time high. It is not right that, as Senator White noted, Moore Street is unrecognisable compared with other streets. It could be recognised as a primary street on the road to independence. I urge the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, to accept the Bill on its merits and if alternative suggestions can be made to enhance it, I invite him to bring them forward. I hope we do not end up with a vote and a Government veto on the Bill because considerable effort has been invested in it. Councillors, Members of this House and, more important, the relatives and groups have invested their time and energy to develop the proposals we are making tonight. I ask the Minister of State to have a heart and allow the Bill to pass Second Stage in order that we can work on it further in the coming weeks to develop a plan that is acceptable to everyone.

I join my colleagues in supporting this Bill. It is tremendously important in that we are in this House on the eve of the centenary of the most momentous events in Irish history. The struggle for our independence was long, sad and painful. A group of poets, educators and people of peace were inspired to light the flame of Irish freedom in the knowledge they were sacrificing their lives in order that future generations of Irish people could live in a free, independent and democratic Ireland. As the beneficiaries of their struggle, it would be regrettable if we failed to commemorate the events of 1916 by preserving the locations where they occurred. It is a pity that heretofore it was left to voluntary groups to campaign for the preservation of this site. These groups include the relatives of the patriots who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

We have a unique opportunity with this Bill. I agree with Senator Ó Domhnaill that we should not divide on it. The three main parties in this House owe their genesis to the spirit and values embodied by those who took over the GPO during the Easter Rising. That was the impetus which ultimately led to the War of Independence, the treaty with Britain and the unfortunate partition of our country. In a week in which the establishment in the neighbouring island was exposed as being responsible for so many deaths in more recent decades through its collusion with terrorist organisations, we should not forget the courage exhibited by the generation of the early 20th century.

This Bill will also bring benefits for the economy of the area. We can see the benefit of developing Kilmainham Gaol as a significant tourism attraction. Tourists who visited Kilmainham are enlightened as to the foundation of the State and the sacrifices that were made.

I have never met anybody who has not been significantly impressed and gone away with an insight they did not have before their visit.

We have the opportunity in Moore Street and the GPO generally to ensure that the centenary will be marked appropriately in a way that our generation can be proud of. When we look back, we will regret the fact that at the turn of the millennium, we failed to have any feature erected in our capital city which would have marked what was an historic event that very few see as such. The centenary of 1916 is coming up next year. We would never have had the War of Independence but for the sacrifice those people made during Easter week. We would never have got at least the partial independence of the island. Unfortunately, the Six Counties in Northern Ireland are not independent of the British as yet but it was a very significant achievement. I appeal to the Minister, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, all of whom had their own connections through people who became very prominent in both parties in subsequent decades, like those in Fianna Fáil. Here is an opportunity for us not only to pay tribute to these people but to ensure that their memory will live on and not just in the people of Ireland. It is particularly important given the diversity of nationalities that have now become part of this country that we ensure that this is commemorated in a way that is very high-profile and that helps young people in the future to become interested in our history and culture. I appeal to the other side of the House to find a way for us to at least agree Second Stage of this legislation so that we can work together on it to ensure that the occasion is appropriately marked next year.

We can say, as others have said, that steps should have been taken much earlier than this but this has not happened. Some progress has been made but it is up to us now to finish the job and fulfil the vision, particularly of those voluntary groups which have played such a significant part in the preservation of that area over the past decade and indeed longer than that. I hope that when the vote is called, probably in a few minutes, there will be a show of unity. I know people referred to the Civil War but the Civil War is long over. We now have an opportunity together to commemorate what is probably one of the most historic events in Irish history.

Before I call Senator Darragh O'Brien, I also join in the words of welcome for the families in the Visitors Gallery and the public representatives whom I can see from here - Councillor Paul McAuliffe, Councillor Sean Haughey and the very distinguished former councillor, Mary Fitzgerald. They are all very welcome.

Where does one start? I must say that I am gravely disappointed with the response of the Minister of State and the very few Government party Members who bothered to contribute to the debate this evening about a plan, roadmap and mechanism to bring about the vision I spoke about earlier. I will deal with Senator Mac Conghail's critique, which I welcome.

Only one member of the Labour Party, the party of James Connolly, saw fit to contribute to this debate as a Member of the Seanad.

The Senator asked for a non-party political debate. He cannot help himself.

Senator O'Brien, without interruption.

The Minister of State has spoken.

Even this has turned into a party political ping-pong match.

I am simply stating a fact. If the Minister of State cannot contain himself on this-----

(Interruptions).

I am simply stating a fact, which is that I am disappointed. I welcome some of the sentiment and some of the kind words brought to the House by the Minister of State. When he was scheduled to take this debate, I thought that this may have been a positive sign and the reason why the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was not present.

I said at the outset that this Bill was not perfect. It is on Second Stage and amendments can be made and new sections inserted. It is an opportunity and vehicle to deliver an historic quarter and to designate Moore Street and surrounding areas as an historic quarter in what we all know is the birthplace of our republic. It would not appropriate to insert the vision of the Rising in the Bill. This relates to Senator Mac Conghail's criticism of it. It is for the development agencies, us and the Government of the time, acting through the appropriate Minister, to make sure the development is appropriate and sensitive.

I read the Minister of State's response with great interest and his statement that the State did not want to create any other agencies or additional companies. Two words come to mind, namely, Irish Water. I am not talking about the physical area of Temple Bar but would it be better as a bus station for all the criticism that is there? Is it not better that the architectural integrity of the area has been retained? Yes, it is not perfect but at least something is there that we can work with and change should we wish to do so.

What is more concerning here is the fact that from looking at the Government response, there is no alternative. It has not said-----

(Interruptions).

There is no alternative.

The Government bought the properties.

I look back at a document signed by the Labour Party's leader and many others across parties that objected to An Bord Pleanála's role in the development.

On a point of order, I specifically suggested two ways in which those who share the motivation of the proposers could further the aim.

That is not a point of order. There has been a very respectful debate here for the past two hours. Everybody who wanted to contribute has been given the opportunity to do so in a respectful way. Senator Darragh O'Brien has the right of reply and I have asked for that to be respected without interruption.

I am not sure whether Senator Eamon Coghlan has proposed a Bill in the four years in which he has been here but he is allowed to respond to what has been raised. The reality is that we have an opportunity this evening to do something positive and to show a way forward as to how this can be done. Unfortunately, the Government sees fit not to do that and not to accept the proposals. This is democracy and life.

I listened to Senator Bacik speak earlier about all the plans the city council has and the great work it is doing with regard to the traders on Moore Street. Talk to the traders and the representatives who are here this evening. Go to Moore Street and ask them what is happening there. Ask them why there are only 26 traders left in Moore Street. Ask them about the great work the city council is doing when it will not even provide a public toilet and proper running water for them.

This area has huge potential. I apologise if any of my earlier remarks hit a raw nerve. I was simply stating a fact. People watching this debate and those who are here this evening will realise that three Government Members contributed, two from Fine Gael and one from the Labour Party. That is a fact but if one does not like it I am sorry about that.

I, like all of us here, value our heritage and history. We have an opportunity to do something about it but the Government, its officials and official Ireland have decided that this is not to be allowed happen. The Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, can shake his head all he likes-----

-----because if he does not like it, that is tough.

No, I do not like it.

Okay, well I am sorry the Minister of State does not-----

Senator O'Brien's time has concluded.

When the Minister of State was a city councillor he attended an in camera meeting with John Tierney and others.

Deputy O'Brien cannot help himself.

Senator O'Brien's time is up.

We are working so hard-----

We are working so hard to make this a collaborative approach and Senator O'Brien is completely out of sync.

No, the Minister of State is not.

On a point of order-----

Senator O'Brien's time has concluded.

We are trying to achieve so much on a cross-party basis.

I have no idea what the Minister of State is trying to achieve.

On a point of order-----

Senator Bacik wishes to raise a point of order.

It is impossible to appeal to Senator O'Brien's better nature.

The Minister of State should please not interrupt.

He clearly does not have a better nature. It is impossible to appeal to it.

The Minister of State should wait until after the next general election to speak in this House.

Senator O'Brien cannot help himself. He has to turn the issue into a political football.

If I have the floor, I have the floor.

On a point of order, on the tone of the debate-----

The debate was conducted in a wholly respectful fashion. I thought it was an excellent debate until Senator O'Brien started making personal attacks on everyone.

That is not a point of order. Senator O'Brien's time has concluded.

I have been interrupted this evening.

The Chair has taken that into consideration.

I am frankly stating that I am gravely disappointed with the Government response.

If Members opposite do not like the tone of my remarks, I am sorry about that, but the reality of the situation is that they are letting down the very people they purport to represent.

I ask the Senator to please conclude.

The Government has an opportunity to accept the Bill and to work on it with the Opposition. I am really sorry if the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, or others are offended or hurt by some of my remarks-----

-----but I imagine they will get over it.

I am sorry but I must put the question.

I wish to raise a point of order, a Chathaoirligh.

I am absolutely disgusted with the position the Government has taken this evening.

I wish to raise a point of order, a Chathaoirligh.

Senator O'Brien should please resume his seat.

I have been repeatedly interrupted by the Minister of State this evening.

Senator O'Brien should follow the leadership of Senator Mark Daly who has at least contributed to the entire process up until now.

I call Senator White who wishes to make a point of order.

I found it very disrespectful that the Minister of State was looking at his laptop all the time. It is not right.

That is not a point of order.

It was very disrespectful.

I thank my colleagues. I am putting the question.

The Minister of State should have closed his laptop and listened to people attentively. He is privileged to be in that position. Only one Member from the Labour Party bothered to speak.

The question is that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

Question put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

Under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Question put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 22.

  • Barrett, Sean D.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Crown, John.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Mac Conghail, Fiach.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Ned O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.
Question declared lost.