Fight for 1916 heritage on several fronts
Fight for 1916 heritage on several fronts


The occupation of buildings at the heart of the 1916 Rising in Dublin was suspended this week after a High Court decision to halt demolition works on the site for two weeks pending a hearing on February 2nd.

However, tensions have continued on Moore Street amid rumours that developers of a shopping mall have ignored the court ruling and are continuing works at the row of buildings, most of which has been designated as a national monument.

A statement issued in the name of the republican activists who occupied the site said the protesters had withdrawn to allow space for the legal, political and planning processes to proceed.

“Should these processes fail to adequately protect the buildings, roads and laneways of the GPO/Moore Street battlefield site the protesters reserve the right to again use non-violent direct action to defend the nation’s heritage,” they said.

Meanwhile, there have been calls for the ‘Na Fianna Eireann’ banner (pictured), which was seized from rebel leader Countess Markievicz’s home by the British army as a war trophy, to be permanently returned to the 26 County State.

As part of preparations for the 1916 centenary, Dublin City Council has secured the temporary loan of the banner for display during an exhibition at City Hall.

Councillors have for years been urging the British Imperial War Museum to return the banner, which was loaned to it from the Royal Collection Trust at Windsor Castle in 1936. It had been taken from the countess’ home as she awaited court martial in May 1916.

Sinn Fein’s Mayor of Dublin Criona Ni Dhalaigh said she was “delighted” that the item was being made available on loan, and said it showed good relations with Britain.

“Countess Markievicz was an exceptional woman, who played a key leadership role in the foundation era of the Irish Republic. The return of the Banner to mark the centenary of 1916 demonstrates the positive relations that have evolved, especially over recent years, between Ireland and its closest neighbour. I look forward to welcoming the banner home.”

And there is also renewed pressure on Britain to return artworks stolen from Ireland a hundred years ago, but not directly connected to the Rising events.

In his will, the collection was bequeathed to Dublin by Cork-born art collector Hugh Lane, who died on board the Lusitania when it was sunk off the coast of Ireland.

Despite a top-level government intervention in 1929, the National Gallery in London arrogated ownership on the basis of a previous will by Lane, and refused to recognise the updated document.

Controversy raged for decades afterwards and Irish nationalists WB Yeats and Lady Gregory, Lane’s aunt, were among famous names who campaigned for Lane’s final wishes to be honoured.

Next week, Dublin City Council will debate a motion tabled by Fianna Fail councillor Jim O’Callaghan to permanently return the collection of valuable impressionist paintings, some of which have been “loaned” back to the 26 County state.

Mr O’Callaghan said he was confident the motion will be passed and urged the National Gallery “to recognise that the moral right to these paintings rests in Dublin.”

“I think it is important that the political representatives of the city of Dublin indicate that they believe the paintings should be returned to their rightful home,” he said.

Mr O’Callaghan added: “2016 would be a good year for authorities to return these items back to Dublin.”

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© 2016 Irish Republican News