Sinn Fein has called for a section of Dublin’s Moore Street to be recognised as part of a “historic battlefield” and preserved as a historic cultural quarter.
The site of the 1916 Rising -- the GPO (General Post Office) in O’Connell Street, Moore Street and the laneways between it and O’Connell street -- form “the most important battlefield site in modern Irish history”, the party’s heritage spokeswoman Sandra McLellan has said.
Introducing a private member’s motion before the Dublin parliament, she said the area “must be fully protected, carefully preserved and sensitively developed as a cultural quarter” in time for the centenary of 2016.
Ms McLellan said the motion was about “how much we owe those men and women who almost 100 years ago defied a powerful empire and proclaimed the Irish Republic”.
Volunteers commanded by Patrick Pearse surrendered to British forces on 30 April 1916 during the Irish War of Independence. They did so from a terrace of houses on Moore Street at the ending of the Easter Rising.
Dublin City Council planned from 1998 to demolish the terrace to redevelop the area into a shopping mall. A campaign in recent years has seen a ‘battlefield trail running from the GPO down Moore Lane and Henry Street and into Moore Street recognised as an important part of Irish history, often described as ‘Ireland’s Alamo’.
Five of the seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation of Independence -- Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Joseph Plunkett and Sean MacDermott, as well as future leader Michael Collins -- surrendered from the terrace.
Numbers 14-17 Moore Street were declared a national monument in 2007, guaranteeing their retention.
The condition of that monument was “nothing short of disgraceful” said Ms McLellan. She said the motion was “clearly calling on the government to invest in cultural tourism”.
But Fine Gael’s Jimmy Deenihan told the parliament it was “not clear how a battlefield site project could be developed” at the site given the existing planning permission and preservation order.
Ms McLellan said the area was still under threat and the proposed plan of the developer would “effectively destroy the national monument leaving only a facade which would be engulfed in a very large-scale edifice”.
The developer Joe O’Reilly was “seen as a member of the golden circle and currently is now in Nama”, she said.
Relatives of the 1916 Rising leaders who have campaigned for the site’s preservation were among those in the visitors’ gallery during the debate.
Fianna Fail backed the Sinn Fein motion and heritage spokesman Robert Troy said “this country does not need another shopping centre”.