7 May 2009 Edition
Moore Street, Dublin - A hotbed of revolution
AS the families of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation await the outcome of a planning appeal to reverse a decision to allow a €1.25 billion commercial shopping development to go ahead in the historical area of Moore Street, Dublin – including historic sites central to the story of the Easter Rising – the great-grandson of one of Ireland’s most beloved patriots, James Connolly, looks at the options if the appeal is rejected by An Bord Pleanála.
BY ELLA O’DWYER
JAMES CONNOLLY HERON, the great-grandson of James Connolly, along with family representatives from all the signatories of the Proclamation, anxiously await the response from An Bord Pleanála to their appeal to have the proposed development – including apartments and a car park – stopped.
“We’ve been told that An Bord Pleanála will arrive at a decision some time between the 16th and 18th of this month. It’s hard to tell what the outcome will be at this stage. We’re hoping that they will decide that the development should not go through.
“We’ve submitted our own plan to the Bord, lobbying to have the whole terrace preserved from number 10 to 25 Moore Street because it’s all part of the monument. The entire terrace should be preserved as an historic and cultural quarter which should extend to Tom Clarke’s shop just off Parnell Square, the Rotunda Hospital and Liberty Hall.”
Strangely, few political representatives in Ireland seem to lose sleep over such an important part of the nation’s past despite Fianna Fáil’s claim to be “The Republican Party”.
“In any other country,” James Connolly Heron says, “it’s obvious what would happen: an historical area like that would be given special status.
“The terrace should be preserved in the original form they were in when the rebels left them. These houses have huge historical importance. Number 15 is where Nurse O’Farrell left at the surrender; and number 17 is where my great-grandfather, James Connolly, lay wounded before he was taken to Killmainham Jail where he was executed.”
James points to the lack of public debate on the issue.
“There’s been no public debate on the future of the area, no consultation. They have hearings on things like whether or not to join up the LUAS [light rail lines]. Nothing should be done to these houses until a proper investigation is done on them by a qualified expert. The whole thing comes down to commercial reasons – it’s about erecting a shopping centre, basically. It’s a national monument and I’m utterly shocked at the attitude of the city planners. It’s like building on the GPO or Kilmainham Jail.”
Asked what kind of support the families of the signatories are getting, Connolly Heron says:
“We have the backing at council level of Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Labour. Arthur Morgan attended the public hearing recently when we appealed the Bord’s decision to grant permission for the development plan and about 500 people attended the protest in Moore Street on 19 April when we formed a human chain around Moore Street. So there’s pubic support but, beyond Arthur Morgan and Joe Costello, no politicians of note.”
So where to from here?
“We have to await the Bord’s decision and then the next option is to take a judicial review – that’s for the lawyers. That’s kind of the last hurrah.
“Of course, there’s always the possibility,” James grins, “that they won’t have the finance to go ahead.”
The great-grandson of one of Ireland’s most renowned patriots is utterly dismayed at the whole prospect of an area of such monumental significance being built over.
“It’s a shocking disregard for our history. Environment Minister John Gormley has the power to put a stop to the whole development but to date he hasn’t met the families of the signatories.
“We’ve requested a meeting with him but his diary has been full – for the last two years. We still hope to get a meeting with him, though.”
In the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, the last HQ of the 1916 revolutionaries could be demolished and it could be that the tourists will have little to see. As James Connolly Heron says: “They’ll be showing them a shopping centre.”
CULTURAL HISTORY: James Connolly Heron (centre) with artist Robert Ballagh and actor Jer O'Leary
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
- It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
- There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.