My Department's project to conserve the national monument buildings at Nos. 14 - 17 Moore Street and to open them to the public to honour the leaders of the 1916 Rising was suspended in early 2016 on foot of court proceedings. The aim of the works was to restore the buildings in a way that would have ensured that they reflected as closely as possible what they would have been like when they were occupied by the insurgents in 1916. Each of the buildings has extensive original features, including plasterwork, partitions, staircases, doors, floors, fittings and fixtures. Most significantly, they also contain physical evidence of the presence of the insurgents themselves in the form of the openings broken through from house to house during the final phase of the Rising. The intention was, and remains, to retain all of this original material. With the agreement of the courts, a programme of works was subsequently carried out to stabilise and weatherproof the buildings until the substantive restoration could be completed. This agreed programme was finished in 2017 and the monument buildings are now in the care of the Office of Public Works.
Working with The Moore Report - Securing History as its guide, the Moore Street Advisory Group is currently engaged in discussions with the new owners of the Dublin Central site about the implementation of these recommendations and the future of the site which surrounds the national monument. I was pleased to hear from the chair of the Advisory Group that the discussions are progressing very positively. I understand that the Advisory Group has been briefed in some detail by the architects for the new owners on how the previous plans for the wider site are being significantly modified in a way that is seen to be more sympathetic to the traditions and history of the area and that also brings the commemoration of the events of Easter 1916 much more to the fore.
The design changes that will follow in relation to aspects such as architectural heritage, urban regeneration, community benefit and social amenity will determine how the wider regeneration work interacts with the national monument buildings themselves and how both elements are appropriately and sensitively integrated. Until that discussion - in which I see the Moore Street Advisory Group having a significant role - is complete and an overall solution to the regeneration of the surrounding site is in place, it would not be possible to put a precise timeframe on the resumption of work on the national monument project. In the meantime, I understand that the Advisory Group itself has formed its own sub-committee that is specifically tasked with coming up with a vision for the buildings. The sub-committee is engaging with my Department, the national Museum of Ireland and other relevant bodies as part of this process. For its part, the government remains entirely committed to having the buildings conserved and open to the public and to having the related works started without delay once the wider discussions now in progress produce an appropriate framework to allow that to happen.
The State owned buildings continue to be monitored and maintained by the Office of Public Works. The buildings are now regularly visited and inspected by OPW and monitored fire and security systems are in place. My Department's National Monuments Service is also regularly briefed by OPW.