Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht díospóireacht -
Thursday, 8 Nov 2012

Preservation of Historic Buildings: Discussion

I welcome Professor Loughlin Kealy, professor emeritus of architecture from University College Dublin. Professor Kealy has kindly agreed to address the committee on the general principles for the preservation of historic buildings, for which I thank him. He has an impressive track record on same and I know his contribution will assist our role in handling the issue.

His track record is particularly impressive with regard to Sceilig Mhichíl. He is also chair of the steering committee dealing with government policy on architecture which was established by former Minister, John Gormley. I now invite Professor Kealy to address the committee.

Professor Loughlin Kealy

I want to set out a context for this area and in doing that a number of themes will run through what I have to say, such as the questions of monuments and the passage of time and how these relate to areas of memory and imagination and behind all of this will be the issues of culture and identity. In talking about these issues, my main focus will be on the physical fabric of monuments and sites. However, I will go a bit beyond that to talk about the connection between preservation and meaning and will try to connect that discussion with a wider international context.

In international terms, the starting point in terms of principle can be traced back to the Venice charter, which is a document produced in 1964 by experts in the area of conservation. The thinking behind that document at the time was that the business of preserving monuments would be facilitated by having international agreements, conventions and protocols that were shared between countries. A number of European countries came together in France to discuss this and subsequently met in Venice where the charter was drawn up.

In the documents I have supplied there is an interesting quotation from the first article of that charter, which is highlighted on the screen in my PowerPoint presentation. It states that the concept of an historic monument embraces not only the single architectural work, but also the rural or urban setting in which is found evidence of a particular civilization, a significant development or an historic event. It goes on to say that this applies to the more modest works of the past that have acquired cultural significance with the passage of time. The deliberations of the group do not only talk, therefore, about the great monuments but also about modest works that because of the passage of history or events have acquired a significance within their culture. Therefore, the group's prescriptions with regard to principles and procedures would apply equally in both cases.

There is a history to how these principles have evolved. If members will excuse me, I will go back a little to talk about that. Although the discussion about preserving monuments goes back to the times of the Renaissance, it mainly took wings in the 19th century, at a time when there was massive reconstruction of medieval buildings and all sorts of inventions were being imposed upon them, with significant demolition taking place in order to arrive somehow at what the true building should be like. However, it is really in the 20th century that we begin to see some progressive developments.

I started off with the Venice charter from 1964, which involved mainly European countries coming together on this. It is interesting that the main impetus for the development of conservation and preservation of monuments is clearly traceable to the aftermath of the two world wars. At times when societies were particularly conscious of the fragility of civilisation and its products. Therefore, we tended to get international congresses trying to arrive at definitions that would help the business of preservation.

A number of significant shifts took place within the course of the 20th century and I will mention these as we go along. From the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s, we had a move to widen the discussion from the monument and historic area to historic towns and urban areas. Then, there was an attempt to draw wider landscapes into the understanding and the existence of landscapes of cultural significance was recognised. That particular discussion is particularly relevant to Ireland, where we have extensive landscapes that retain vestiges of the past and which, for one reason or another, have not been recognised over time, though they are beginning to be recognised now and people are paying attention to how we should deal with them. For example, the landscapes of early Christian monasteries need to be regarded as a whole, rather than considered as individual examples existing in a particular place. I will cover this again as we move along.

Generally, when discussing the preservation or conservation of monuments and places of cultural significance, I always put three questions forward as "coat hooks" to help our thinking on the issue. First, what is the significance of the monument or the place? Second, how is that significance embodied in the material fabric we see in front of us? Third, how is that significance maintained, revealed or protected in what we propose to do. These three layers help us address the issue.

With regard to the significance of the monument or place, this is an area where thinking has developed over the past few years. This area brings into play multidisciplinary scholarship, because it is not within the competence of any particular academic or other kind of discipline to fully describe the significance of a particular monument. One might look at it from an architectural, archeological, geographical, historical or other perspective. There is a question of its place in folklore and in literature. There are many different ways in which the significance of a place can be expressed. As members are aware, there has been some discussion about the city of Dublin and its possible inscription on world heritage site lists. One of the factors under consideration is that Dublin is and has been acknowledged as a city of literature. A number of buildings on world heritage site lists are there because they are places where there has been outstanding achievement in the arts, rather than for the architectural quality of the place itself.

Apart from this, there is the question of analysis of the fabric and detailed discussion of what exactly one is looking at and what remains on the ground in time. The attitude taken in this regard is that the building itself is a document. It is a document that was written at a point in time, but has since been progressively altered or written over by different generations under different circumstances. Therefore, there is what one might call a polymces, which is one of those medieval manuscripts which when finished was erased and written over, but the older text could still be read through the newer one. That is what buildings are - they are sedimentations of history. One of the jobs of the analyst now is to go through those sedimentations and portray them. His job is not necessarily to say this one is more important than that, but here they are, one after the other or one on top of the other.

Let me refer to one of the international organisations that has had much to say on this area, UNESCO. It has produced various categories of monument and criteria by which their value can be judged. It has done this because it administers a system of world heritage sites and prescribes which are world heritage sites. Therefore, it has had to produce definitions that allow it to make choices and judgments. In terms of monuments, UNESCO has identified historical, artistic and scientific criteria to be applied. In terms of sites, it has identified historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological criteria and in natural sites, aesthetic and scientific criteria. Of course, all of these overlap and interpenetrate one another.

When it comes to the business of identifying the value of a monument, there are a number of international agreements that are relevant. I have mentioned already that there is a progression involved and I will briefly explain what that progression has been. The Venice Charter of 1964, which states that it does not apply just to modest works of the past, has the great monuments in mind. The next document that is really significant from an Irish point of view was produced in Australia in 1979 and is called the Burra Charter. It differs from other charters because in Australia one is not necessarily looking at huge monuments dating from the 12th or 14th centuries. Very often one is dealing with landscapes of cultural significance, namely, landscapes that were highly significant to the indigenous peoples of Australia. Therefore, one had to reformulate one's thinking about conservation to take account of cultural inheritances that are very different from the European model.

The Burra Charter is particularly interesting for several reasons. One is that because the Australians had to go to this effort, they did not take too much for granted in terms of definitions. They had to spell out exactly what they meant, which means that the charter contains good definitions and explanatory memoranda. If, for example, reference is made to a cultural site, a paragraph in the charter explains exactly what the reference means. Therefore, the charter is very useful from the point of view of understanding the arguments. From an Irish point of view, the charter represents the first time that the idea of a cultural landscape was articulated clearly and the first time that guidelines were given on how to approach it.

The next document that is relevant is the Nara document on authenticity. I will deal with authenticity in more detail later but it is the critical factor in this entire discussion. The Nara document originated in Japan and was produced to address the nature of many Japanese monuments which were built of timber. Some of them are over 1,000 years old but they still exist because they have been progressively repaired, with pieces replaced, over time. If one looks at a Japanese temple that is 1,200 years old, some of the timber one is looking at may be only five years old, while some of it may be 500 years old. The European perspective that demands that one must maintain the original material intact, in all circumstances, has to be modified by virtue of the fact that there are types of cultural inheritance where that idea does not apply. There is a refinement of definition that comes from Nara, which begins to talk about the nature of authenticity. It relates the nature of authenticity to the cultural context in which the monument is produced. The Nara document also produces another valuable idea, namely, that there is not just tangible heritage that one can touch and that is physical, but also intangible heritage. The authors are talking here about the craft and the knowledge that is inherent and implicit in the individuals who build and repair these things. The Nara authors recognised that this is every bit as important as the artefact in itself.

The last document I wish to draw attention to is the Declaration of San Antonio from 1996. That arose, initially, as a challenge to the Nara document on authenticity. It comes from the Americas and the authors took issue with the idea of a particular culture as being in some way related to nationalism. They argued that the experience of the Americas is that within a particular nationalism there are many subcultures and quite often, as one can imagine in a colonial situation, a minority culture imposes its way on majority cultures within the society. They required, therefore, a further definition of where the question of cultural identity might go. Between the various aforementioned documents the issues of monuments and sites, cultural landscapes, tangible and intangible heritage and representation and embodiment are addressed. By embodiment, I mean that a monument, apart from representing something actually embodies, in its fabric, a significance.

The next question that arises is how significance is embodied in the fabric. That is fundamentally a question of evidence and authenticity. Basically, it is a requirement that somehow one establishes the evidence for whatever value one is ascribing to something. In terms of the physical environment, that requires fairly intensive examination. UNESCO, since 1978, has applied a test of authenticity and the idea behind it is that ultimately one is trying to find the truth and to determine the real situation. One must be able to stand over the propositions one makes in terms of the significance of the monument one is trying to preserve. The preservation of that evidence, that is, the evidence upon which one bases one's judgment, is the primary material goal of conservation and preservation. It is not just a matter of preserving the building, as such, but also of preserving the evidence of that building over time. This is a fundamental consideration.

The retention of material authenticity is a critical point. The Venice Charter has a lot to say on this issue and contains what could be described as guidelines. It states that evidence should not be removed or falsified. When one is repairing a building one must recognise the evidence upon which one is basing one's judgment and ensure that whatever one does to repair the building does not change the reading of that, which it is very possible to do. The charter goes on to state that material fabric should be retained and repaired and that where materials have decayed beyond repair they should be replaced with like materials. One does not substitute materials unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Of course, one of the very basic points in this regard is that old buildings have a habit of moving. They do not shift location but they move, and introducing modern materials into buildings that are moving can be incredibly damaging. We have seen many examples where, in order to stabilise a building where the walls are moving, large amounts of concrete are introduced. However, concrete does not move so the rest of the building moves, the concrete stays where it is and a whole succession of seismological events can occur in slow motion, over time, as a result. Basically, one does not do that sort of thing but one replaces like with like. The charter states that new work should be compatible with the old and bear a contemporary stamp. This is wide open to interpretation in terms of how one might propose to do that. It is important to make sure that whatever one does now, it will be possible for somebody in 30 or 40 years to see clearly that the work was done in 2012. There are many ways of doing that but one must make sure one does it correctly or else one is in danger of falsifying the evidence. One cannot assume that the records we have now will be transmitted into the future.

Another important point is that work should be reversible, if possible. The idea behind that is very simple, namely, that nobody has all the answers. In other words, one can make a decision today but one's knowledge is incomplete. One might know better next year and might not have made the same decision or done the same thing. Therefore, in theory, work should be reversible but that is not always possible with buildings. If one inserts something to hold a building up, for example, it is not that easy to take it out again without consequences. It is very difficult to reverse certain kinds of work. The final notable point is that all periods and phases of building should be respected equally. Again, that is a matter of judgment because obviously some phases in a building are more significant than others.

The starting point is that one should not try to produce a single coherent unambiguous work. One is there to preserve evidence.

The Venice Charter refers to maintaining a setting that does not detract from the significance in terms of scale, form and function with regard to the preservation of a monument. Primarily, this comes from people looking at medieval cathedrals, the Acropolis in Athens and the great monuments of the past. It is not easy to translate that principle to the case of everyday architecture that has become significant with the passage of time. We should consider how we understand this principle and how it should be explored and expressed. I have provided some illustrations which are somewhat tongue in cheek. I am unsure whether the committee members can see them on the screen but in one there is a nice shiny office block with what was the foyer of a theatre in front of it. The idea was somehow to retain something from the past while developing the area behind it for new uses. Unfortunately, the joke of this illustration is that the part in front is actually reconstructed; it is not the original retained structure. It was rebuilt as a fake to show that those involved cared about the original structure. The other illustration is completely ridiculous. It involves a case where the developers were obliged to keep the building but they wished to maximise the use of the site and they simply built the new building on top of the old building. Basic challenges arise, especially when one is working in dense urban areas. There are difficulties with the business of trying to accommodate changing urban functions while at the same time trying to maintain the significance of a particular place or monument.

There is great significance to a place as well. We are trying to establish the truth of a given place as it exists. This means not only its history must be taken into account but also its contemporary reality. We only have responsibility for conserving or preserving our heritage at a given point in time. We exist for a limited period but the buildings were there before us and hopefully they will still be there after us. We can only exercise our responsibility for the short span when we have the ability to do so.

The question of interpretation is always upfront. There will be multiple narratives, especially for complex sites where there are complex and sometimes conflicting histories. A transformation process occurs through the action of preservation or conservation. The object is not the same after we finish acting on it as it was before. Afterwards, it embodies one's action. A transformation process is involved in preserving a building.

Some of the committee members might recognise the picture on the screen. It is one of the iconic images that has emerged in the past 15 years. It is a picture of the bridge in Mostar. The committee members may remember the appalling civil war that occurred during the break-up of Yugoslavia. Before it started, Mostar was a highly integrated city of Christians and Muslims. As positions became polarised during the war both sides became entrenched. I will not make any proposition about who did it most. Anyway, there was a target, the cultural monuments of the other side. Perhaps this was a way of denying the legitimacy of the other side or of sapping morale but either way certain sites were targeted. The bridge was one of these targets and it was destroyed by shelling.

When the war was finished and NATO and its associated bodies came in as temporary administrators, the proposition was aired that the bridge should be reconstructed and it was decided to do that. Now, it is a bridge between the two sides of Mostar. One side is substantially a Croat city and the other side is substantially a Bosnian city. The Bosnians are delighted to have the bridge in place but the Croats ignore it. Now, the act of reconstruction has created something which cuts across people's understanding or their desire of where they want to be. It has become a political statement produced by a body from outside that came into a highly fraught situation. The bridge now has a symbolism completely different from what it was before it was destroyed. It may have physical similarity and one could argue that it makes part of the city intact again but its meaning is now completely different and it is completely different on both sides of the river. This comes about because people are bringing their own cultural, political and social agenda to bear in their appreciation of it. There are overlays of meaning in the act of preservation and conservation. In the business of preservation we need to represent the understandings of the present because they evoke different things and memories. We need to understand the significance of the intervention.

The survival of a place is always strengthened by having a use compatible with its physical form and structure and its significance. This is another article of the Venice Charter and it has been repeated in other charters since. One might think that the proposition should be a basic tenet but it is not as simple as it seems. Modern usages put different demands on historic fabrics. Therefore, it becomes very important to be able to understand that by allowing new services to be put through a building there can be a loss of historic fabric and this may involve a loss of authenticity and it may potentially damage the evidence that the monument represents.

Any use of a building should be sustainable. This is where the focus moves to the question of future management. When we preserve a monument the question is what do we have in mind? Do we want it to be another museum? What do we want it to be? This is where some thought and creativity must be applied. Basically, when one is trying to preserve a monument, one is trying to preserve its significance in future but that is not a static thing; it evolves in time. We make our judgments about what we consider to be significant now but we must take into account the fact that life will change. Therefore, the monuments we preserve somehow need to accommodate our ability to keep telling the story of what is happening and how what happened at a given event in time has been commemorated and the meaning that has for contemporary society. After all, this is what monuments are supposed to do for us today. They are supposed to tell us something about what we are now and what sorts of things we consider valuable for the future. That is our job when it comes to preserving monuments and passing them on.

I have put up a picture. Some of the committee members might be familiar with it. I realise it is a little out of left field but it comes from the city of Sarajevo. I am unsure whether the committee members remember the beginnings of the war there. There was a bombardment of the city which targeted a market where 22 people were killed as they queued to shop. As part of that bombardment the national library was also destroyed. One day a cellist came down the street with his cello, sat down in front of the ruins and played an adagio in G minor. He played it for 22 days one after the other in the middle of the snipper fire, shelling and everything else.

His creative action had extraordinary influence in making people realise the fragility of the culture and what was happening. The image went viral worldwide and had its own influence, making people say: "Hold on. This goes too far. Apart from the human cost there is also a cultural cost to what we are doing, and can we stand by this sort of thing?"

We need to be creative about the use of monuments. We need to remember that places like cities are more than containers for human activity. They are also the locus for memory and the imagination. They help us to understand our own past by virtue of what they are now, but they are also places that allow us to imagine the future. James Joyce boasted that one could reconstruct Dublin from Ulysses. He might have been right, at least for parts of it.

I will conclude by posing the three questions again. What is the significance of the monument for the place? How is that significance embodied in the fabric? How is that significance maintained, revealed and preserved in the action or intervention that is proposed?

Thank you, Professor, for that informative and worthwhile presentation. The manner in which you produced it, outside of the slides, was very engaging and interesting.

We have several visitors today and a large volume of work. I will confine questions to members of the committee and I ask members to confine their remarks to questions in order that we can advance to the next stage.

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh, agus go raibh maith ag an ollamh freisin. I found his presentation helpful and fascinating. I hope it will inform the other discussions we will have today. Professor Kealy has taken a number of quotations from the Venice Charter of 1964. I will read a section of the first quotation.

Senator, could you proceed to questions, if possible?

I have to put it in a context, if that is all right. I will read the quotation and ask the question. Is that all right?

"The concept of a historic monument embraces not only the single architectural work but also the urban or rural setting in which is found evidence of a particular civilisation, a significant development or a historic event." In the discussion we will be having today, would that part of the charter relate to a situation where a number of buildings of a historical nature exist and are designated a national monument, and would the area immediately adjacent to those buildings fall within that meaning?

The second quotation from the Venice Charter is: "Preservation of a monument implies maintaining a setting that does not detract from the significance in terms of scale, form and function." Can Professor Kealy relate that quotation to my first question? Again, I am thinking specifically of a discussion we will be having subsequently about the buildings in Moore Street, but Professor Kealy need not respond in that context.

Please confine your questions to general principles, Senator. We cannot discuss Moore Street.

I understand. Professor Kealy does not have to refer to Moore Street. He could, perhaps, give me an answer in the context of the scale, form and function of any development that would take place in that context.

I remind members that this is a general topic and not specific. Professor, you might respond to that question. We will then move on to other questions.

Professor Loughlin Kealy

I am bending over backwards to make sure that nothing I say is taken as setting out some sort of parameter for the discussion that will follow. I must say that.

All these charters are merely statements of principle. In the same way, the concept of authenticity, for example, is only understood in the actual real context. If we are talking about a setting of a monument, we must talk about that particular place, its own history and what it actually means. One must bear in mind that the charters are not one-size-fits-all documents. They are statements of principle which must then be interpreted and on which judgments have to be made. There is no way out of that because all actions require judgment and the judgment takes place at a point in time.

I will take three questions together. I call Deputies Coffey and Murphy and Senator O'Sullivan.

I thank Professor Kealy for a very interesting presentation. It is helpful for us to understand the general context of conservation, preservation and so on. I have some experience because I come from a historic cultural town.

What does the professor think of the term "management of change"? Finding a sustainable use is the key to preserving any building or context as far as is practical. If a building is protected too much it will not find the modern use that will protect it and it will suffer and decline. Does he agree that management of change and finding a sustainable use for a building is the key?

The Venice Charter refers to context. The curtilage of sites is protected. The curtilage of this site is within the bounds of the buildings in Moore Street rather than the battlefield site. The context, however, is wider than the curtilage that is protected. There is no doubt about the authenticity of the site. Professor Kealy said work should be capable of being reversed. Does that include the context as well as the actual buildings?

Everyone will understand why a building should be preserved, in so far as it can be, if it has unique architectural features or because of its antiquity. What is the professor's position on retaining a building that, in itself, has no architectural merit whatsoever but because of something that occurred in it? Is it as important to retain such a building as the Acropolis, for example?

Professor Loughlin Kealy

Management of change is a perfectly good definition of conservation. I did not spend much time talking about the Washington Charter, which deals with historic areas and towns. One of the presuppositions of that document is that urban areas change, as they have done in the past and will continue to do. The management of change, therefore, comes into play as whatever means are necessary to ensure that the significance of a monument is not lost in the process of change. All of that belongs within planning and urban design, as well as in conservation. It is a wider question than simply the preservation of an actual structure.

The second question is similar to one I dodged earlier. I am also going to dodge Deputy Murphy's question. If I am to observe my brief here, I will not trespass on the area the committee will be discussing and making decisions about later. I apologise, but I am not going to go there.

This brings me to the third question.

One of the slides I used showed that the primary purpose of preservation or conservation is the preservation of evidence. If a particular society or group decides that a structure is significant for a number of reasons, the evidence of that significance is to be maintained. How this is done, compared with how the Acropolis is conserved or preserved, is a case of chalk and cheese. The general intention is the same but the modus operandi is vastly different and different kinds of skills are required. The conservation and preservation of the Acropolis has a number of different phases. Most of the past few years have been spent trying to undo some of the work done in the past. From a technical point of view, that work has proved to be incorrect and sometimes damaging.

I said that people are conscious of the differences of culture. In our culture alone, we have places where buildings are built of what I call fugitive materials - materials that decayed quite quickly. The preservation or conservation of a thatched cottage involves the continual replacement of the thatch. There is no way out of that. However, this does not mean that the significance of the building has changed. It just means that, in this case, the original material is not as core to its significance as it would be in the case of the Parthenon or the Acropolis. It is a different ball game.

I thank Professor Kealy for a very interesting presentation. I wish him well in his work with the Royal Irish Academy in the compilation of the dictionary of art and architecture.

Sitting suspended at 2.02 p.m. and resumed at 2.05 p.m.

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give this committee. If a witness is directed by the committee to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and the witness continues to so do, the witness is entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of his or her evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and witnesses are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person or persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House or an official by name in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

I advise witnesses that the opening statement and any other documents submitted to the committee will be published on the committee website after this meeting. In the interests of fairness we will hear the witnesses in strict alphabetical order according to surnames. The exception will be the Dublin City Council submission which will be taken last. The members of the committee are here to listen. I ask witnesses to note that the committee has no opinion on this issue other than this is an important site in the history of Ireland and must be maintained. The committee does not have an opinion at this stage nor has it expressed an opinion on the best means to do this. The purpose of today's meeting is to inform the committee of the issues involved. The committee will deliberate in private session at a later date on what it has heard.

I wish to make a further statement. Chartered Land was also invited to this meeting but, unfortunately, has declined the invitation to attend. It gave a number of reasons for its non-attendance. As Chairman of the committee I made every reasonable attempt to persuade Chartered Land to attend and to facilitate its attendance. Acknowledging its central role as owners of the site, I acceded to its request for more speaking time than other witnesses. I guaranteed that it would not be subjected to questioning or interruption by any other witnesses and if this happened, the meeting would be suspended. I changed the venue of the meeting to ensure that correct parliamentary procedure would be followed to achieve that objective. This could best be done at a committee meeting in Leinster House and this is the reason we are meeting here today. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in the offices of Dublin City Council on Wood Quay. I thank Dublin City Council for facilitating that request. We changed the venue specifically to facilitate the attendance of Chartered Land. However, Chartered Land, among other conditions, wished to give its evidence in private session only. This was not acceptable to the committee. This committee hears evidence in public session in so far as possible. Chartered Land has declined our invitation. It has missed the opportunity to put its case in an open forum before the Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas and before the people. It is unfortunate but that is its choice.

I invite Ms Nora Comiskey to address the committee.

Ms Nora Comiskey

I thank the committee for inviting us to attend this meeting. We are the 1916-1921 Club. Our sole aim is to celebrate 1916 and 1921 and to stand up for everything initiated by 1916.

We have supported the Government's plans for the celebrations. We have a strong and dedicated following. In 2006 the president of the club, Paraic Byrne, wrote a letter to The Irish Times stating the club's support for the Government's plans for the commemoration and to show that we support the legal government of the country.

People will know that we support the legal Government of the country and we supported it on all its celebrations.

The 1916-1921 Club exists to commemorate the 1916 Rising and the subsequent struggle for independence during the following five years that culminated in the first democratic Government in 1919. It was certainly the first organisation to represent ordinary people, including women. The club sees 1916 as being worthy of commemoration as the seminal event in the nation's history. We should not forget that for some two decades in our recent history the State chose not to commemorate or celebrate the event that led to its foundation. The 1916-1921 Club is in the process of compiling a programme of events as we approach the centenary. We strongly believe, as do our members, that the Moore Street and general retreat area should form a central part of these celebrations. We believe that the extreme sacrifices of the leaders of the 1916 Rising are responsible for the peaceful, democratic Government we all enjoy today. We plead with our public representatives and media to refrain from referring to the Rising as a violent encounter while ignoring the violence that engulfed the world at the time and also ignoring the fact that two years previously the Ulster Unionist Council-UVF armed itself to the teeth to oppose Home Rule. It is said that forgetting the past leads to a repeat of the mistakes of the past, and therefore it is of the utmost importance that all physical links to the event in our history that led to Independence are treated with the utmost care, attention and respect.

We are a mere four years away from the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the pivotal event of our history. The generation who participated in that event are no longer with us, but the buildings, streets and laneways they held in the name of the Republic remain with us as they were then. These are our lasting physical link to that momentous event - the birth of this nation. In light of that, the 1916-1921 Club supports the development of a historic, cultural and educational quarter in the GPO-Moore Street-Moore Lane area, the location of the last headquarters of the 1916 Provisional Government, where five of the signatories to the Proclamation spent their last hours of freedom before being executed. The Proclamation is still one of the most enlightened documents in the world today, and we should continue to bring it to the attention of the international community.

If members would like I will read out part of the letter from 2006 to show that we supported the Government.

There is no need to do that.

Ms Nora Comiskey

Is there not?

Ms Nora Comiskey

The members will know that to be the case if they read the presentation.

It is at the back of the presentation.

Ms Nora Comiskey

That is as much as I have to say. We totally support the saving of Moore Street and the adjoining buildings.

Mr. John Connolly

I thank the Chairman and the members for inviting us to come here today. The subject of our presentation is the same as that of previous speakers, the saving of No. 16 Moore Street. We had the pleasure of meeting the Chairman of the all-party Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Ciarán Lynch, and the secretary of the committee, Mr. Eugene Ó Cruadhlaoich, last May for the purpose of further briefing the committee on the two alternatives that are currently before the Minister with regard to securing the above objective. In the course of the briefing we outlined to the officers of the Oireachtas committee that the first of the two alternatives the Minister is evaluating dates from the time our Save No. 16 Moore Street Committee was formed, which was around 2003, while the other group's option dates from around 2008 or 2009.

The first option had its genesis in a call by us to the members of Dublin City Council and Oireachtas Éireann to desist from permitting the demolition of No. 16 Moore Street and its environs to make way for a regeneration project for the north O'Connell Street-mid-Moore Street-Ilac Centre area in the form of a mixed-use development of commercial and residential accommodation. Full planning permission had been granted in 1998-99 for the demolition of No. 16 Moore Street and its contextual buildings. Our proposal to the authorities for the implementation of an alternative vision, which would fulfil both the need to regenerate and the need to commemorate, was that a specialist conservation consultancy be identified and appointed for the specific purpose of carrying out a detailed examination of the area and bringing to the council a report and recommendations on how a balance could be correctly and properly struck between the requirement of the council to regenerate the semi-derelict and decaying northern end of the capital city's main street and the need for correct, proper and appropriate commemoration of the events that were seminal to the genesis of our State, including the Provisional Government's decision to surrender, an important part of which took place at No. 16 Moore Street.

A firm of expert conservation consultants was selected and appointed. It duly carried out its work and reported back to Dublin City Council in the form of a detailed bound report which recommended not only that No. 16 Moore Street should be returned to its 1916 specification and to pristine condition and used in perpetuity as a commemorative place for the events that unfolded on, in and around Moore Street in the latter days of Easter week 1916, but also that No. 16's three contextual buildings, Nos. 14,15 and 17, should receive the same preservation treatment, although without specifying that these three buildings should form an integral operational part of the commemorative project. The report and recommendations by the expert conservation consultancy received a rapturous welcome and endorsement not only from all 52 members of Dublin City Council but also unanimously from our own committee's members.

The proposal that was specified by the expert consultants as striking an appropriate balance between regeneration and commemoration was subsequently dealt with by the various authorities and players with jurisdiction acting in co-operation with Dublin City Council planning department, An Bord Pleanála, Chartered Land Limited, the Save No. 16 Moore Street Committee, the members of Dublin City Council and the concerned public. The planning permission that now exists reflects the comprehensive input of all of these groups. The proposal is fully funded, both in terms of capital provision and in terms of the operation of the commemorative element of the scheme in perpetuity, and the precise detail of its implementation is clearly defined with built-in contingency provisions. Only ministerial approval of the section 14 application is required to move forward towards the delivery of the commemorative element of the Dublin central scheme by September 2015.

The Chairman of the Oireachtas committee requested at the conclusion of our meeting that we obtain reinforced assurances from NAMA and Chartered Land Limited that the commemorative element of the Dublin central scheme could be successfully decoupled, if necessary, from the commercial element of the scheme and that, even in the event that the main scheme was held back by prevailing economic circumstances, both the capital and the operational overhead cost of the commemorative part of the scheme would be available. We gave our assurance to the officers that we would attend to this aspect and report back. We have since done so and reported back in positive terms.

To summarise, the proposal to completely restore the buildings at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street and designate them as a commemorative centre for the 1916 Rising, which was made by the owner of the site, Chartered Land Limited, and which was accepted with modifications by the planning authority and, on appeal, by An Bord Pleanála, was deemed satisfactory by the majority of the Save No. 16 Moore Street Committee in terms of achieving the committee's founding aims and objectives. In arriving at this decision the committee took cognisance of the likely effect of the proposed surrounding development on the national monument, the financing provisions which were then in place and the approaching deadline for completion of the works by 2016. The committee is of the view that the proposal is well worked out and achievable within the limited financial context and timeframe.

The relationship between the national monument buildings and the proposed adjacent commercial development has been carefully considered by the architects with open space being created to the rear of Nos. 14 and 17, which will feature some outdoor commemorative material. The proposal provides for the historic buildings themselves to be restored and renovated according to the best conservation practice and thereafter used in perpetuity as a commemorative place to the memory of the events which unfolded in and around Moore Street during the course of the latter days of 1916.

The committee will continue to carefully monitor the works to make sure they are carried out in accordance with the proposal, through its architect member, The O’Rahilly’s grandson, Mark Price, who has liaised closely with Shaffrey conservation architects and will continue to do so until completion of the project to reinstate No. 16 Moore Street and its three contextual buildings, Nos. 14, 15 and 17, to the 1916 specification and pristine condition.

I thank Mr. Connolly. I will call out the names of speakers and it is fair enough if anyone does not wish to speak.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

I wish to commence by saying the first occasion when I was informed of the joint Oireachtas committee meeting and the preservation of historic buildings in the city was when I received a copy of a letter that had been forwarded to the Chairman’s predecessor, Deputy Ciarán Lynch. Before I begin my statement I wish to state for clarity and for the record that in regard to the communication, I am bound, a Chathaoirligh, to refer to a communication to your office that questions the standing of honourable members of the Save 16 Moore Street Committee, including members of the National Graves Association - the campaign founders - who have for over a decade remained steadfast in their opposition to the planned demolition of No. 16 Moore Street and its surrounding area. The cheap attempt on the part of supporters of the Chartered Land planning application, some of whom are present today, to smear their reputation is a disgrace and cannot be allowed stand unchallenged.

I urge Mr. Connolly Heron to please not use language such as “smear”. We are trying to maintain a reasonable, balanced committee meeting. I sincerely ask him to respect that and not to engage in inflammatory language.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

That is fine, Chairman. The claim that our members are somehow falsely claiming to represent the views of the campaign committee is a scandalous falsehood and should be withdrawn and removed from the record with immediate effect. I trust that the joint Oireachtas committee is in possession of the letter of rebuttal that I felt obliged to send in defence of their, and my, reputation as a voluntary, unpaid and unrewarded participant in an honourable, responsible campaign to date.

As an elected officer of the Save 16 Moore Street Committee I am charged with the responsibility of recording its deliberations. The record shows that the agreed founding aim of the committee was to protect the standing and integrity of No. 16 Moore Street in its entirety as the focal point of a 1916 historical cultural quarter. The record shows that this has always been the case and that this remains the central aim of the committee to this day.

The holder of the highest office in the land, an t-Uachtaráin, Michael D. Higgins, on walking the 1916 battlefield with relatives of the 1916 leaders during the presidential campaign said, “This area belongs to no individual group or political party. It belongs to the people.” The recent announcement by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan, that control of planning cannot be left in the hands of elected representatives in light of the disclosure of corruption in the planning decision process makes sense until one examines the decisions taken concerning the proposed development of the Carlton site. The recent TG4 documentary by Dónall Ó Maolfabhail on the, to put it mildly, chequered history of the site demands a response from some quarter in defence of a city under siege apparently from our own publicly funded city planners. Any modest residents’ association records minutes of meetings. The startling disclosure by a city official that our city authority does not hold a written record of all meetings on the future development of the heart of our capital city is beyond belief. Other Carlton site pre-planning meetings also took place with officials in the very Department charged with the protection of our heritage. Can we assume that they kept the minutes of those meetings? They should make interesting reading. Is there contained within a record any official in the Department expressing the slightest concern at a developer’s proposal to arbitrarily redraw the boundary of a national monument in his own commercial interest? If not, why not? After all, this is the very Department charged with the guardianship of our heritage.

The apparent secrecy surrounding this proposed development of our city centre must now end. It continues today with the astonishing absence of Chartered Land. That elected city councillors were unaware of a contract drawn up in their name should be a matter of the gravest concern. Was any other official in a Department aware of the contract drawn up in secrecy behind closed doors during the course of preplanning discussions? There has been surprisingly little response to what has been rightly described in the Dáil by Deputy Mary Lou McDonald as a scandal. This is not a planning application for a new kitchen extension in a suburban home; this is an application to invade and build on, over and under the protected area of a national monument designated in honour of the men and women of 1916. This is the highest form of protection the State can bestow on a building or structure. Put simply, we expect the State to honour that designation. A national monument by its designation belongs to the people.

There has been a shocking lack of vision on the part of those charged with the protection of the city culture, history and heritage over a long period, and a lack of consultation with those most affected, namely, its citizens. There has been an abject failure on the part of State agencies, public officials and those charged with protecting our most recent history and heritage to protect the very heart of this city, the GPO-Henry Street-Moore Street area. The area includes the 1916 battlefield site. The Easter Rising was the only land engagement of any size fought in Britain and Ireland in the 20th century. All buildings that bear witness to and form part of a battle are historic. The difference between a battle that is written about and taught to our children and one that is largely forgotten can be summed up in one word – preservation.

Mr. Connolly Heron’s five minutes are up. Does he have much more to say?

Mr. James Connolly Heron

I will just finish with a final paragraph if I may.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

We think of history as something only in the past, often forgetting that we too are part of history and we too are going to be judged by history just as those who came before us. The question for us today is how will we be judged on this issue. As Oireachtas Members, under preservation order No. 1 of 2007, committee members undertake the preservation of the national monument. It is their duty to protect the national monument in the interests of the people. In their letter of notification to interested parties the committee sought to bring interested parties together to achieve consensus on the best approach to preserve this historic site. Consensus is not a prerequisite for preservation; action is. It is time to act. As the actor Sam Waterson put it on the threat to the preservation of battlefields in the United States. "Those places that we cherish had better be defended; because development is so swift, so efficient and rather final."

I trust that the committee will facilitate and allow all interested parties to present their case to it in the interests of openness, transparency, proper planning, the protection of our heritage and history and, more importantly, in the national interest. Anything less insults the very memory of those the Moore Street, Moore Lane, 1916 national monument purports to honour.

I thank Mr. Connolly Heron. I call Mr. John Conway.

Mr. John Conway

It is very good to be present for the debate. I endorse what was said by Mr. John Connolly. We have carefully considered the matter over the seven to eight years that the Save 16 Moore Street Committee has been running. We are convinced that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. While it would be brilliant if we had the €100 million or €200 million it would take to implement the big plan, that money does not exist. There is a strong possibility of funding the saving of No. 16 Moore Street and its three contextual buildings. The Dublin City Council planners, An Bord Pleanála and the other relevant authorities got their decision near enough right. The planning permission that exists at present is the best that we could make of it. We support the proposal.

I thank Mr. Conway and call Mr. John Daly.

Mr. John Daly

I thank the Chairman for inviting us to be present. I also agree with what Mr. John Connolly said. I got involved in the issue as early as 2002 when I saw certain things on walking around Moore Street. I urge the committee to encourage the Minister to grant section 14 and that the restoration of the four buildings will proceed.

We have 1,250 days from today to Easter 2016 to open this monument to the general public and the Irish diaspora. I urge the committee to support the Minister in his work and have the building and the three contextual buildings renovated and opened.

I thank Mr. Daly. I call Mr. Dominic Dunne.

Mr. Dominic Dunne

I thank the committee for having this meeting. It is a positive development to invite in all the concerned individuals and give them an opportunity to speak.

If I may interrupt, if anybody wishes to say who they are connected to or if they want to indicate who their relative was they should feel free to do so.

Mr. Dominic Dunne

I have worked as a volunteer for the past 20 years on raising awareness of the need to protect our natural, living, built, buried and cultural environment - everything that identifies us as human beings, as Irish people and as individuals. I believe it was a Professor Kealy who went a long way towards explaining that there is a psychological element to our natural, living, built, buried and cultural environment which is necessary for a social democratic country to understand. For example, to deal with built heritage, when one walks down a street the architecture in that street and the manner in which it is presented to the public who utilise that street has a psychological impact on the people. If the place is monolithic in its presentation, psychologically the people will feel oppressed and therefore when planning departments plan streets and so on they should be cognisant of those issues; it should be an educational requirement for those sitting in such seats of responsibility.

Regarding No. 16 Moore Street and its environs, I am here as an environmental activist and a member of the Save No. 16 Moore Street. In early 2003 I was asked by some people to have a look at Moore Street and specifically No. 16 Moore Street. I was informed that about two years prior to that time a Save No. 16 Moore Street group had come into being which had lobbied Dublin City Council long and hard and eventually achieved its objective, through a unanimous vote in the chambers, to have No. 16 Moore Street put on the list of protected structures. However, as is the case with ordinary people who have such interests but who are not activists they do not understand that when they achieve their aims through consensus, as voiced by someone earlier, they must ensure that what was achieved is brought to reality. That is what happened. They went home and two years later the site still has not been put on the list of protected structures, even though we had a unanimous vote on the issue in the city council chambers.

I was asked if I could put my energies into it and in doing so I called a meeting of interested individuals in Tailors' Hall off High Street, Dublin. At that meeting it was decided by everybody present that a committee should be formed to ensure No. 16 Moore Street is listed as a protected structure. I had not intended going any further on that action that day as I had other interests in mind but I asked the people present if there were interested parties who would chair the committee. There was a request from the floor that I take the chair but I said I was too busy. That request was made three times and eventually I succumbed and carried it forward from that point. I chaired a loosely run committee with little or no regulations; it was just free speech at the table to determine where we could go from that point. Many members joined and left the committee for different reasons but about 18 months later, through strong lobbying of Dublin City Council, we again achieved a unanimous vote in chambers to have the building put on the list of protected structures. We continued with the challenge and turned our face to central Government to seek national monument protection because listed protection does not afford great protection. We got national monument protection.

My argument at the committee was that we should argue to keep the houses on both sides of No. 16 Moore Street to keep some context to the single building. The single building would be lost in the development but at least Nos. 15 and 17 would give it some context and we would have some room for a commemorative centre as opposed to a small museum. I was first lambasted for that idea but we ran with it. We mentioned it a few times but we continued to argue only for No. 16. We succeeded in getting four houses put on the list of protected structures, the footfall of six houses designated as a national monument, four on Moore Street and two on back lanes.

I must ask Mr. Dunne to conclude. We must move on.

Mr. Dominic Dunne

The detail of that is too long to go into.

Point taken. I will move on to the next speaker, Ms Muriel McAuley.

Ms Muriel McAuley

I thank the committee for inviting us to come before the committee.

You are very welcome.

Ms Muriel McAuley

To put my presence here in context, my mother's father, uncle and godfather were three of the seven signatories. That is one reason I am here. Another is that I am a Dubliner, a mother and a grandmother and for future generations it is imperative that this area is properly treated but it is in danger of not being so. The national monument as it is currently designated is the buildings on Moore Street, Nos. 14 to 17, back as far as Moore Lane. The planning permission proposed intends to intrude on 60% of that. Professor Kealy mentioned the importance of not interfering with buildings. The planning permission proposes putting staff toilets, kitchens and car parks under this national monument, which could well endanger the structures.

When the campaign began Nos. 14 to 17 were seen to be very important. We must keep in mind that Nos. 10 to 25, and the yards behind that, were all occupied. There were approximately 300 volunteers and they occupied all of the yards and all of the buildings. The proposal we are putting forward is that we return many of the buildings to their previous use, much as Professor Kealy suggested, namely, living accommodation, relevant shop accommodation not simply a commemorative centre. Nos. 10 to 25 and the lanes are very important as well.

I thank Ms McAuley. I call Mr. Colm MacGeehin.

Mr. Colm MacGeehin

I am the legal adviser to the relatives of the seven signatories. The members have heard two of those relatives speak already. They come from all walks of life. They hold very different views but the one issue that has brought them together and for which they have got the support of other groups is their alarm and dismay at the way our history is being treated and in the way the area of Moore Street is utterly run down. As Mr. James Connolly Heron referred to already, this is one of two battlefield sites in the whole of Ireland and Britain in the 20th century. The Easter Rising was the first anti-colonial war which inspired other nations. It was the one international event that happened on our soil, and that is what they wish to state.

They have made presentations to the committee already on what they want preserved. Their point could not be restated often enough. They want to save not merely the monument at 14-17 Moore Street but the entire terrace, in addition to the historic laneways the Taoiseach called the laneways of history.

I wish to bring the attention of members to some of the obfuscation that has occurred. It has been stated repeatedly by the supporters of Chartered Land that the monument comprises the buildings at 14-17 Moore Street. It does not because these comprise but 40% of the national monument, which extends back to Moore Lane. It has also been stated the company has full planning permission but it does not. It has planning permission subject to the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Why is the company seeking consent? Its representatives are not present today because, in the company's culture, this matter should be addressed in secret or behind closed doors, as was always the case. Although the representatives are not here, they sent a very revealing letter to the committee last July. I will not read it in full but will summarise it. A startling point made in the last paragraph is that while the company does not have any money itself, it is confident that, for the present, NAMA will give it sufficient funds with which to develop the buildings to the front, as it puts it. I do not know how it intends to renovate them. It refers to only four buildings in the centre of the terrace in the national monument. The letter proceeds to deny that the development would encroach on the monument. As the authors put it, "this is not quite true". This is quite revealing. It is intended to build a three-level car park covering the 60% of the national monument that lies to the rear, in addition to toilets beneath.

The company's main acknowledgement is that it has no money with which to carry out the development and that it does not envisage the monument being developed before 2016. This begs the question as to why it is so insistent on obtaining consent. To use its own parlance, it is because it wants to "flip" the site. Flipping means that, with the benefit of the planning permission, the monument can be sold, which would suit the company and, I presume, NAMA. It would then be in the hands of what we normally call vulture capitalists, who could build a massive shopping centre on the site.

Extraordinarily, the letter states the company does not wish to do away with the laneways. The planning permission documentation states a square is to be put in the middle. This would encroach on the national monument itself. The company wants to crash through the buildings to the front and build new roadways down the middle. It wants to pave over everything in existence and obliterate it from the site entirely. This is the plan that has conditionally been sanctioned. This is what the company wants to flog with the consent of NAMA and, I presume, the Minister. If this is allowed to happen, it will be a national disgrace. There is no place for this development whatsoever. It is entirely without meaning. The only intention is to sell it on to some others with large funds to do what they can with it.

Ms Honor Ó Brolcháin

I thank the Chairman for inviting us. I am a grand-niece of Mr. Joseph Plunkett, who was on the Moore Street site along with his two brothers, George and Jack. I am a member of the group of relatives of the seven signatories. The more I go to Moore Street, the more I find it extraordinary, emotional and deeply moving. This has been the experience every time we brought somebody there.

Every member of this committee should see the TG4 documentary "Iniúchadh Oidhreacht na Cásca", which must be one of the best documentaries ever to have been made in the country. It is beautifully researched and the only documentary that tells the entire story. It will shorten much of the committee's work if the members all watch it together.

My second recommendation is one that the members probably feel they do not need. I would like to take them on a journey from the door of the GPO, which was on fire, requiring 300 men to dash across Henry Street, under fire from snipers on the roof of the station, to where they got bottlenecked in Henry Place. Henry Place was packed when filled with an army of 300 men and their five leaders . They got stuck because of the sniper fire from the direction of the Rotunda. They had to wait and go across in batches as Joseph Plunkett signalled by dropping his sabre. Seventeen of them were wounded. They were exhausted and very thirsty because there was no water in the GPO while it was on fire. The buildings around it were heating it inordinately. The soldiers got to Mrs. Cogan's house, broke down the door and entered. She was cooking a ham and when she finished cooking it she gave it to them. The Pearse brothers, who were closer to each other than others were to either of them throughout their lives, slept on the table upstairs. They got up in the morning and everyone started burrowing through the houses in the way they had been trained to do; they were trained for urban warfare. Eventually, the whole terrace was filled with men, as were the yards behind. The leaders took their place in the middle as a place of safety. Joseph Plunkett sat at the end of James Connolly's bed. Connolly was in terrible pain owing to a gangrenous foot, which would have killed him had he not been shot first. Plunkett was also dying, in his case with tuberculosis.

Pearse looked out the window and saw, to his horror, the three members of the Dillon family, who were wrapped in sheets and carrying white flags, being shot down and killed by the artillery at the top of the street. He said no more civilians should be killed. He and the others got together, therefore, and agreed on a surrender. Ms Elizabeth O'Farrell walked up the street on her own into the mouth of the guns with the surrender note for the British. She walked down, and up and down again, and then back up with Pearse. Both were arrested.

Joseph Plunkett came out and stood in the middle of the street, on which there was nothing but bodies, and waited with his back to the guns for the men to line up. They all combed their hair, washed their faces and brushed down their uniforms. The Englishmen, the Liverpool men, and the Glasgowmen argued and were in tears in the belief that they would be shot immediately. They wanted to continue fighting. All lined up with their guns unloaded and marched in fours with their arms at the slope behind Willie Pearse and Joseph Plunkett, with Tom Clarke and Seán Mac Diarmada behind. They marched back down Moore Street the way they had come, back through Moore Lane, Henry Place and Henry Street. The marched up O'Connell Street where they laid down their arms outside the Gresham and then marched to the Rotunda where they were made lie on the ground overnight in the wet. The next battalion that arrived, Edward Daly's men, was made to lie on top of them. That was the beginning of the end of the British empire.

The site is a huge battlefield, extending all the way from Prince's Street to Parnell Square and beyond. If we can enhance it, we can do what makes people feel they are real and belong to the human race, and what makes them feel they have generations behind them. It would make them feel connected to the whole world, including Australia, America and Africa, whose inhabitants also had to get rid of the empire. The area to which I refer is very important and nothing should be done lightly. If the monument is not ready for 2016, it does not matter; doing it right is what counts. We owe this to ourselves, our forebears and future generations.

Ms Lucille Redmond

The committee wanted us to state our reason for being here. My mother Barbara's father was Thomas McDonagh and her mother was Muriel Gifford. Muriel's sister, Grace Gifford, married Joseph Plunkett in Kilmainham Gaol chapel an hour before he was shot. Pádraig H. Pearse was my mother's godfather. My grandmother's sister Nellie was in the Royal College of Surgeons working with Madame Markievicz.

She also worked with Connolly. During 1916, my grandfather's brothers, Joe and Jack, fought in Jacob's factory. Joe was later the Deputy Minister for Labour to Madame Markievicz and he died on hunger strike on Christmas Day 1922. Earlier, Professor Kealy asked whether we wanted these buildings to be another museum and we must think about what we wish to commemorate and how we wish to do so. The liberal and open ideas of the people of 1916 are possibly not in tune with the Ireland of 2016, the central value of which may be seen as being profit and profitability. The question is whether we wish to forget these people, who ended a 700-year occupation and whose ideal of Ireland was liberal, European, egalitarian and co-operative. My grandfather was one of those people. He was a feminist and intellectual, whose Irish theatre presented works by new playwrights from across Europe. The Ireland he envisaged and of which he dreamed was European, intelligent, honest and liberal.

In response to Deputy Coffey, these buildings on Moore Street - this palimpsest as Professor Kealy said - these Georgian townhouses of small businesses really constitute the last terrace of such working-class Georgian houses in Dublin and perhaps in Ireland and they are the Alamo of Ireland's history. This terrace of houses and yards and the lanes down which the people of 1916 retreated, these houses in which the dying James Connolly and Michael O'Rahilly spent hours on the threshold of death and where Tom Clarke, Joe Plunkett, Sean McDermott and Pádraig Pearse prepared to lay down their lives, are the essence of Ireland's republic, that is, the republic they sought. We can choose to preserve these buildings as a symbol of that open, European and liberal Ireland for which these men died or one can follow the profit and salute the Celtic tiger and all it stood for by destroying this heritage. It is up to members.

If we wish to be the Ireland those men and women envisaged in 1916, then we should commemorate those people and ideals and should save these laneways of history and these houses and their curtilages but otherwise, no, go for the profit. My sister, Ms Muriel McAuley, has reminded me that the cobblestones across which they retreated are still in place on the streets.

Mr. John Tierney

We are here today at the joint committee's invitation to clarify where, from the perspective of Dublin City Council, the issue of the national monument stands. The matter of works to the national monument site is still within process and obviously, any comments we make must take cognisance of that fact. Professor Kealy's presentation was very interesting because one point it highlighted to everyone is the multiplicity of factors that must be taken into account in situations like this, which is far from being a black-and-white matter. That was one reason the council commissioned the Shaffrey report in 2005, which we have circulated to members today, together with our presentation, and which is well worth reading by everyone if possible.

Mention was made of the TG4 programme, of which the council has a very different view. Moreover, some issues were raised today which are beyond the bounds of what I understood we were here to talk about. However, I am happy to respond to this effect, namely, when I became city manager in late 2006, one of my very first meetings - that is the reason I remember it so clearly - debated this issue fully. The situation was openly debated and the issues, some of which were referred to today, were dealt with at the time. Indeed, some of the decisions prior to my becoming manager, either were lost in terms of the compulsory purchase order or withdrawn in terms of the agreement to which reference was made. The city council is debating these issues again and a report was put before its members last Monday night dealing with those issues. A further debate on the issues will be held on 19 November.

Before I hand over to Mr. Jim Keogan to cover our written presentation in more detail, I will conclude by referring to the planning permission that was granted in 2008. In effect, our decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála and following a lengthy oral hearing, An Bord Pleanála granted the permission in March 2010. In making the decision, the board considered that the proposed development, as amended, and subject to compliance with the conditions it had set out, would constitute an appropriate mix and intensity of land use, would be compatible with the established pattern of development in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of impact on cultural heritage of the area, including the national monument at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, protected structures within the site and environs, and the historic street network. The plan approved provided for the preservation of Nos. 14-17 Moore Street as a national monument.

The fifth condition of the grant permission states that no work shall commence within the preservation order boundary of the national monument at Nos.14-17 Moore Street, unless prior ministerial consent to such works has been obtained in accordance with the statutory requirements of section 14 of the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2004. In compliance with this condition, Chartered Land has made an application to the Minister to carry out works in accordance with the approved plans and the decision is awaited. I now ask Mr. Jim Keogan to take it from there.

Mr. Jim Keogan

I wish to put in context the role of Dublin City Council in the redevelopment of the area. The site of the national monument at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street is in close proximity to the GPO and both are situated in an area of the city that has suffered from urban blight and dereliction since the 1970s. The physical appearance of this area has been a cause of concern to the city council, having regard to its historical, social and architectural significance for the nation. A number of interventions have been made by the city council and the Government over the years to address these issues and problems. The first was the preparation by Dublin City Council and subsequent approval by the Government in 1999, of an integrated area plan for O'Connell Street. That plan was one of five approved for the city, which provided for a package of tax incentives to assist in the redevelopment and rejuvenation of targeted sites within the plan areas. The Carlton sites form "Site Cluster 1" in the O'Connell Street integrated area plan, which was identified as having great potential and capacity to act as a catalyst for the redevelopment of that part of Upper O'Connell Street, which had been and is suffering from widespread dereliction. The site of the national monument at Moore Street formed part of these designated lands.

Subsequently, designation of O'Connell Street as an architectural conservation area took place in 2001. This was the first architectural conservation area prepared for Dublin pursuant to the newly-introduced planning and development legislation in 2000. The purpose of the designation was to give recognition and protection to the historical and architectural character of this area. The GPO, together with the Carlton facade and other buildings, form part of this designated area. Subsequent to the aforementioned designation, the area was also made an area of special planning control in 2003. Again, the city council so designated the area and it was the first of its type on foot of the new planning and development legislation. The purpose of the exercise was to regulate undesirable uses within the area and to give greater protection to the historical character of this primary main street of the capital. Again, this designation was the first of its type for the city.

I refer to Nos. 14-17 Moore Street and the site's inclusion on the record of protected structures.

Up until 2006, Nos. 14-17 Moore Street had no conservation designation under the provisions of the planning Acts. In 2005, Dublin City Council commissioned Shaffrey Associates, architects, and John Montague, urban historian, to carry out an architectural assessment of Nos. 14-17 Moore Street. Following consideration of the report, public submissions and the positive recommendation of the city manager, the members of the city council approved the inclusion of Nos. 14-17 Moore Street in the city council's record of protected structures.

A retail core strategy was prepared by Dublin City Council to address the continued decline in the retail offer in the city centre. The continued migration of retail activity to the suburbs required specific interventions by way of policy initiatives. The strategy was introduced by way of a variation to the then Dublin city development plan and identified sites within the north and south side retail areas suitable for redevelopment which could enhance and consolidate the city centre as the primary retail area for the region. It should be noted that the lands at Upper O'Connell Street, inclusive of the Carlton site, were identified as one of these sites. The strategy took cognisance of the protected status of the buildings, both in O'Connell Street and Moore Street, and would also provide the opportunity to integrate them into a renewed and vibrant city area, thereby further enhancing their status.

Nos. 14-17 Moore Street were subsequently designated as a national monument by the then Minister in 2007. Between 2002 and 2006, Dublin City Council invested over €20 million in the refurbishment of the O'Connell Street area. This public investment in the area was to both stimulate and complement private investment which was also taking place. It should be noted that 11 cluster sites were identified within the O’Connell Street integrated area plan for tax designation. Of these 11 sites, only two remain undeveloped, including the Carlton lands. In 2008, a planning application was lodged with the city council for the comprehensive redevelopment of a 2.1 ha site situated between Upper O'Connell Street and Moore Street. The site area included the national monument at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street. The applicants, Chartered Land, had assembled the site over several years and had engaged in a consultation process with stakeholders, including the city council members, prior to lodging their planning application.

The application was assessed having regard to the city development plan and the policy objectives of the various strategies and designations outlined above. It should be noted that major modifications were made to the proposed scheme during this assessment process and a decision was made to grant permission in 2008. The planning authority was satisfied in making this decision that the national monument was both respected but also would now be enhanced by forming an integral part of a larger, vibrant urban block.

The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála and following a lengthy appeal period that included an oral hearing, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for a development in 2010. The city council has been consistent over the past several decades in seeking the redevelopment of these lands at Upper O'Connell Street and Moore Street. The city council has sought to achieve this redevelopment in a balanced fashion that respects the historical and architectural significance of the area but, at the same time, recognises the need for investment so as to address the serious urban blight and dereliction from which the area has long suffered.

Since the application by the developer for consent to carry out works on the national monument site was made, we understand further positive steps are being taken with the Minister's office to see if there is a way to reinforce and extend the commitment to appropriately commemorate the 1916 event. We are not privy to these discussions at this point but when the environmental impact statement, required under new legislation passed in July, emanates from this process it will go on public display, submissions will be taken and the council will also be formally consulted. It may well be that a proposal that addresses various concerns still being expressed can be achieved through this process.

For the purposes of making efficient use of the delegations’ and our own time, will members ask questions? They do not need to give a Second Stage speech and ask the visitors to agree with them because that is not a question. Members should ask a brief question.

I taught history and I am conscious of the historical significance of the Moore Street site. How does the council believe the local authority in Amsterdam would feel if there was a request to build a shopping mall that would completely dominate Anne Frank’s house? This is the similarity in the proposals for the Moore Street site. Does the council accept the emotive and concrete evidence that the whole area from the GPO right down to the Rotunda hospital is part of our history and culture, not just the few houses mentioned?

I am on the centenary commemorations committee and when Chartered Land presented to it, I asked why it wanted to put a car park at the Moore Street site. Will the council explain this to me too as the area is well-served with car parks and by public transport?

There is significant potential in this area for a historical and cultural site which will return vibrancy to the city. There is potential for employment and tourism but I cannot understand how this has not been seen. How could the council put into a developer’s hands the preservation of a site that is so much part of our history? Why would we trust a developer to do that?

Mr. John Tierney

In some ways Deputy O'Sullivan is asking me to rerun the planning application process as adjudicated on by An Bord Pleanála. The fact remains it was an independent adjudication and I have read some of the most relevant parts of it to the committee. Mr. Keogan has explained the context. We commissioned several reports, including the balanced Shaffrey report which deals with the business and retail needs of the city on the one hand and the preservation aspect on the other. That decision was taken, subject to the request to carry out works under the National Monuments Act for which we await a final outcome.

I welcome the delegations to the committee and it has been very informative. Has Mr. Connolly Heron worked on a sustainable programme which could be put in place by 2016 which would retain the national monument in its historic setting? If so, how has this been received to date? Has Mr. MacGeehin been in contact with NAMA about the site? With regard to a recent TG4 documentary, “Iniuchadh Oidhreacht na Cásca”, does Dublin City Council believe it has questions to answer? Do the delegations share the concern that the original buildings might collapse during construction works? This is about our national heritage. It is a key battle site and has important potential to draw tourism. It is important some facility is in place by 2016.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

Our case is that there are adequate regulations in place under the existing legislation to carry out restoration of all the buildings in the area. For three years, we have been notifying planning enforcement of the breaches of the planning regulations in the area such as the blocking up of windows, exits and entrances but to no avail. That is why our call is for State intervention at every level.

If we are worried about 2016, the starting point is planning enforcement. One should examine the area, list all the planning breaches and compel the owner to carry out immediate restorative work on the entire terrace. It is not really a difficulty - in fact, one could say in a sense it is easier - that this national monument is under the control of a developer who is under the financial control of NAMA. In a way, the State is involved, but what must happen and which has not happened to date is that there must be action. There must be a political decision taken that this is not merely an ordinary planning application but that this is a proposal to destroy the historic centre of Dublin that links directly to the event in our history that led to our independence. It requires political will. It requires the committee, as elected representatives and Members of the Oireachtas, to remain steadfast that there will be no invasion of the area of the national monument, no building on it and no building under it. It must be protected fully. Outside of that, there is a battlefield site to be taken care of. Stage one in this entire process is there must be no invasion of the protected area of a monument of this importance.

Mr. Colm MacGeehin

In answer to Deputy McLellan, we did meet NAMA. We tried to persuade NAMA of the folly of this development. We understood, as the Deputy understands, that the agency holds the purse strings. Since then, the agency was totally non-committal in its replies to us. If one gives credence to what Chartered Land states in this letter that was circulated to all the members of the committee, NAMA is willing to give Chartered Land money to do some sort of a dickying up, as it were, of the four buildings to the front of Moore Street in the hope that such a move, somehow or other, will bring about a reconciliation, after which it can apply to the Minister for his consent and the whole place can be flipped, so to speak. That seems to be the scenario that is being played out.

What ought to be happening is that some of those involved, including those present in this room, among whom are included Dublin City Council, should admit now that they got it completely wrong and that they got carried away with the codology of building a suburban-style shopping centre. Why do they not now admit that they were wrong, ask the Minister to refuse his consent and let the whole house of cards collapse, after which we can start again?

Mr. John Tierney

In response to Deputy McLellan's question, I would be happy to provide her, and indeed all committee members, with a report to the city council on Monday night last.

Is it agreed that we circulate it to all the members? Agreed.

I want to put a question to the city council officials, perhaps in particular to the manager, Mr. Tierney. Given as this seems to be a clash between commerce and culture, and perhaps commerce and who we are as a people historically, is it possible that if this debate had taken place some years ago, there would be a greater awareness of the significance of the site? Does the manager at this stage see any way we can step back and revisit that situation?

I want to put a question to Mr. James Connolly Heron as well. Seeing as this is an emotional experience - it certainly has been for me - and it must be a wounding experience for all of those on both committees who are relatives of the 1916 patriot leaders, and given the time constraints at this stage, what would be the view of his committee if there were a decision to revisit this in its totality and to bring forward an agreed plan and a date for its launch, perhaps culminating in some aspect of its acknowledgement as a site in 2016? I put that question in the context that we must find the solutions. That is why we are facilitators here today.

I also have a question for Mr. MacGeehin. He was exceptionally clear on the parameters of the planning permission which has been given and it is quite clear there is a ministerial role in so far as the designated site is concerned. I am aware that at least one Minister, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, has walked the site, and perhaps other Ministers have as well. Will Mr. MacGeehin be seeking an urgent meeting again with the Minister specifically to discuss that aspect of the ministerial role? If there was a positive response on the other issue, could that be brought to the Minister?

I also have a question for Mr. John Connolly. With his presentation, I feel I am in the presence of history. If there was an agreement through Government to have a plan designed and agreed for the whole battle site, would his response be positive or negative?

There are four to answer those questions. I will begin with Dublin City Council and then move on to Mr. Connolly Heron, Mr. MacGeehin and Mr. Connolly.

Mr. John Tierney

Development in the city, particularly in the city centre, is always a situation where many objectives collide because of the nature of city centre development and the different activities that are there, whether it is from the current wish to undertake a development or whether it is from historical context or whatever. It would not be fair to say that debate did not take place at the time. Senator Ó Murchú did not suggest that.

I am thinking of the general debate as distinct from the city council's debate.

Mr. John Tierney

There was a considerable amount of debate at the time. There was a considerable amount of consultation on the various designations and the different permissions. The council, as I said, had commissioned as far back as 2005 a report specifically on the area. One can see the changing nature of the debate in that, as far back as 1998, the permission was for full demolition. The position changed fairly dramatically during the period up to the application in 2008.

We are in a process. I repeat what Mr. Keogan stated, that our understanding is that, since the application by the developer for consent to carry out the works was made, further steps are being taken with the Department to see if there is a way to reinforce and extend the commitment to commemorate the 1916 event appropriately. We are not privy to those discussions. If something comes out of that, it will have to be declared as part of the environmental impact statement which, in turn, will go on public display for further consultation. We will see whether it addresses any of the issues that have been expressed.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

It is interesting that the representative of Dublin City Council would refer to the Shaffrey report. If one reads the Shaffrey report, it is clear that the entire terrace should be preserved. Ms Shaffrey singles out No. 10 Moore Street at one end of the terrace that we call "The 1916 Terrace" as being worthy of preservation. She talks about Nos. 20 and 21, what was Hanlon's and is now Polonez Store, and the corner where The O'Rahilly died as worthy of preservation. We would fully support the Shaffrey report in that regard.

In answer to Senator Ó Murchú's question, there are two simple solutions. The first is that Dublin City Council should refuse to hand over Nos. 24 and 25 Moore Street, currently under its ownership and control, to any developer who proposes to demolish a terrace that Dublin City Council's policy is to preserve. That is what the city council should do immediately. The second is an even simpler solution: the Minister, Deputy Deenihan, should state that he will not consent to any proposal to invade or build on or under the designated protected area of a national monument. If he says, "No", the present planning application falls and we go back to the drawing board. Effectively, the city council can send this plan back to the drawing board, if it has the will. Certainly, the Minister can, if he has the will. There is a simple way to get back to the drawing board.

It is not as if this plan has not been changed. The current proposal has been changed three times from the infamous park in the sky proposal to where we are today. It is beyond belief that the State has not said to this developer, who is in NAMA and is on a salary of €200,000 paid out of the taxpayers' purse, to change the plan.

We do not understand it.

Mr. Colm MacGeehin

We met the Minister and made our case very forcefully. We were clear that planning permission is conditional on his consent. If he refuses his consent the entire process collapses. It is surreal in its present state because the developers say they cannot and will not build anything because they do not have the money to develop a new Dundrum on top of the battlefield site. Encroaching on the site is integral to their plans. They say it is not entirely true that they are building on it but it is largely true. There will be a three-tier carpark with toilets underneath.

We have met everybody and members must be well rehearsed in the issues at this stage. When we met the leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Martin, he indicated that a committee chaired by the Taoiseach could resolve the problem. He cited the IFSC, a development which I do not greatly admire, and pointed out that it required a Taoiseach to drive the project with the assistance of a small committee. The Minister can be the starting point for reversing this ridiculous and unnecessary suburban shopping centre. We do not need it and it will not be built with this money. I do not know what the vulture capitalists will do when they get their hands on it but everybody in a position of authority should exhort the Minister to say "No". It would be a popular decision and, God knows, this Government needs to make some popular decisions.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

None of my group takes issue with any other plans or ideas which may be suggested by interested parties regarding Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street or the battlefield site. I was initially interested in one building, No. 16, but my interests have since expanded. I would praise a number of groups for the great work they have done.

I thank members for their co-operation in not making Second Stage speeches.

I note for the record my relationship with Michael Collins through marriage. My grandchildren are the great great grand-niece and grand-nephew of Michael Collins. They are small babies at present. My son married the great grand-niece of Michael Collins. I am not declaring a conflict of interest.

My grandmother is one of the Collins family of west Cork.

We are related.

I can claim a relationship with Michael Collins.

I have served long enough on the council to know when one should declare a conflict of interest. I do not have a conflict of interest because I do not have a decision making role. The decision lies with the Minister. Are James Connolly and John Connolly related?

Mr. John Connolly


In regard to the Minister's statement of 23 May 2012, he has confirmed that his overriding concern in making a decision on the application is the long-term preservation and protection of the national monument, along with the appropriate and respectful commemoration of the 1916 leaders. What can this committee do? Senator Ó Murchú made the point about never the twain shall meet. However, we should come together to discuss our different views. The Minister has stated unequivocally that the buildings at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street are robustly and comprehensively protected as a national monument and no change can be made to the buildings, whether externally or internally, without his consent. I have seen the plans that the group originally presented but with NAMA now in the picture and the developer removed from it, at least in monetary terms, what is the next step? The group cannot say the buildings should be allowed to deteriorate. I have seen fine buildings deteriorate through a lack of action. We cannot allow that to happen.

Mr. James Connolly Heron

That issue was addressed earlier, if the Senator will forgive me for saying so. The provisions under the existing Planning and Development Acts are adequate to protect the buildings in question, as well as other buildings in the area directly associated with the Easter Rising. The Senator mentioned one of the iconic figures of Irish history, Michael Collins, who spent time in the terrace in question. He was in the GPO garrison. It is extraordinary that every political party in this State can be linked to the evacuation of the terrace. The Labour Party is directly linked through its founder, James Connolly. Fianna Fáil has too many links to mention but the most obvious is the former Taoiseach, Seán Lemass. Fine Gael has the Michael Collins connection and while Sinn Féin was not an active participant in the rising, it gained from it in terms of popularity and appeal. All these parties can trace their lineage to what we describe as the birthplace of the Republic.

Nothing will happen until we have a political decision. We are rapidly approaching the centenary of 1916. The decision could be taken politically. If the Minister says "No", we will go back to the drawing board to produce a new plan. At that stage all interested parties -----

The site will remain fenced.

Mr. Colm MacGeehin

It is dangerous to decouple the four buildings to the front from the rest of the national monument. They only represent 40% of it. The strategy of Chartered Land is to convince the Minister to focus solely on these four buildings because it wants to grab the rest of the site, which is also important historically. The answer is for the Minister to say "No".

Ms Honor Ó Brolcháin

We have a plan in the sense that we envisage a commemorative centre or museum in the buildings, surrounded by bookshops, cafés and areas of contemplation, quiet and rest. All we have to do is ask the OPW how it manages such projects. There are plenty of professional people in this country who have developed similar centres to the point of excellence.

I wish the committee well in its deliberations. I am not a member of this committee but I am a member of the all-party centenary committee, which has had several discussions on this issue. Ms Ó Brolcháin gave one of the most important contributions because she explained how one can capture the events of 1916 in one's imagination by walking these streets based on a little bit of history. If it is redeveloped in an inappropriate manner - I will not comment on the specific proposals - and those streets are no longer there, we will potentially obliterate any way of capturing these memories. I visited the site and the buildings at the invitation of Chartered Land but I also toured with relatives. I have seen the potential for the site from within and without and I have also visited many historical sites around the world.

I have a number of questions for the witnesses.

One of the questions is to Dublin City Council. Does Mr. Tierney believe that in the public mind there is a view of the city council that there has been an ignorance about the social, cultural and aesthetic value of historical buildings in Dublin? That is based on what happened with Wood Quay, Frascati House and Georgian Dublin. This also applies to the national authorities in the context of Kilmainham. Does he believe that a different approach should have been taken to historical monuments in the city? The idea behind DCC's rejuvenation plan with the HARP project was to preserve as much of the historical city centre as possible to attract tourists and generate revenue there. Where lies that project?

Mr. Conway mentioned having one in the hand and two in the bush. Does he believe that the State has two birds in the hand because it controls everything, which is in the gift of the Minister?

Is it the view of the various witnesses that there should be an early decision from the Minister in order that once for and all, we can ensure this area is properly preserved in dedication to those who fought, died or survived during that heady week in 1916?

Mr. John Tierney

The Deputy picked probably five applications going back 40 years. It is not the best way in which to make an assessment.

I can outline many more.

Mr. John Tierney

There are thousands of applications each year for planning permission and there will be controversial applications from time to time. There are 9,000 buildings on the record of protected structures. The city council was the first local authority to introduce the concept of an architectural conservation area after the introduction of the 2000 Act and we have designated ten of those areas.

Mr. John Conway

I would love to have the two birds but there is no money and there is no likelihood of there being money. Realism and pragmatism dictate.

Mr. Dominic Dunne

An accusation was made by someone about actions in the past. With regard to the site, the historical aspect is the most important. There is in hand great design, architectural and historical research relating to the four relevant buildings, Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 17 with Nos. 14,15 and 17 to be developed as a commemorative centre and No. 16 as a national monument, which is all good. The first thing that has to happen by law in any development is that a screening must be implemented. The screening will identify where an environmental impact assessment needs to be carried out. All interested parties must be allowed an input into such an assessment. That should be done properly according to the letter of the law. We are in this situation in the first place because this was not carried out. We are back at a stage where we are looking at what needs to be done, which is to identify the full extent of the national monument. Once that is identified, we can say this all needs to be properly protected and other aspects of the site can be commercially developed while, at the same time, putting money aside to protect and enhance the national monument.

Ms Muriel McAuley

The national monument is designated as 14 to 17 Moore Street back as far as Moore Lane and including the curtilage.

Mr. Dominic Dunne

Nos. 8 and 9. The whole national monument incorporates the-----

Ms McAuley has the floor.

Ms Muriel McAuley

I remind the committee that of all the battalion headquarters used in 1916, the only one that has never been demolished and-or reconstituted is the Moore Street house. Every other one is gone, at least in part. The GPO and some of others were rebuilt but everything else is gone. The only headquarters we have left is Moore Street.

Mr. John Tierney

I would like to clarify one issue. Reference was made to the current situation with Nos. 24 and 25. The city council passed a section 183 resolution to dispose of that to the developer. That has not gone through as yet but the question was asked. It will only come back before the city council if the terms and conditions are altered.

I thank all the witnesses. They conducted their business in a fair and efficient manner, which is appreciated. I thank the committee members and non-members who attended. The history of what we are discussing and the significance the witnesses associate with 1916 is not lost on us. It is wonderful to acknowledge that. I do not want to single anyone out but Ms Ó Brolcháin's contribution was wonderful. She evoked the spirit of 1916 and reminded us of the type of republic envisioned by the men and women of 1916. That was hugely historic. James Connolly is one of my political idols and it is enthralling to be in the presence of his relations.

We have a facilitatory role and I assure the delegation that the committee will return to this. We will do our level best to ensure a balance is struck. I do not want to see a skyscraper over Moore Street. There is room for manoeuvre and I assure them the committee will not be found wanting in this regard.

My final comments are for Chartered Land. This committee comprises Deputies and Senators from all parties and none which, as mentioned by Mr. James Connolly Heron, were born out of the issue we are discussing. We made every reasonable attempt to bring in the company's representatives. We gave them assurances that they would not be interrupted and they would be allowed to address the committee through the Chair. We had allocated them extended time, more so than any other witness, and they attempted to dictate to a joint committee of the Houses of Oireachtas. That is repugnant to the idea of democracy. I want to put on record my disgust about that because this committee made every effort to facilitate their request.

The joint committee adjourned at 3.40 until 2.15 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 November 2012.