15 May 2003 Edition

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Mala Poist

Rethink bin charges

A Chairde,

The proposal by the Minister for local government and the Environment, Martin Cullen, to make an amendment to the Waste Management Act, ie. to sanction the non-collection of refuse from households not complying with the bin charges, is totally wrong.

This bin charge is another form of tax or rates foisted onto the already hard pressed public. This, in my opinion, will contravene the Health and Safety Act.

There has been obvious opposition to these charges since their inception. Every back road laneway and industrial estate has builders' rubble and household refuse, ie. washing machines, broken fridges, beds, cars, and various other items of rubbish strewn around. If this proposal goes ahead the problem will get worse.

The minister will have to form a uniformed squad of litter wardens, which in turn will result in more taxes imposed on the public. Think again, minister.

Eamon Gibney.

Ex-Prisoners' Book

A Chairde,

A number of years have now passed since I first started to make public appeals to the woman ex-prisoners to tell about their experiences. At this stage much of the research has been done. A few crucial interviews are still needed so please as soon as you can could you get them to us.

The book could have been written a long time ago, but it would not have come from women who experienced arrests, interrogations, beatings and eventual imprisonment at the hands of the RUC and British Army. The book is not solely about Armagh Prison but every prison that held an Irish republican woman. These stories have to be told for the sake of republican history.

Many women were killed in action, their names are enshrined forever on the Roll of Honour. In the book, I would like to include a Roll of Remembrance to honour our comrades who served time with us and have since died. Also we would like to put on this Roll of Remembrance those women members of the movement who after great service to their country died from natural causes. This cannot be done without your help.

If you know of any woman who you believe should be on the Roll of Remembrance, please send their name and details to us. Please contact me at the adress below.

Eileen Hickey
Sean O'Neill Centre, Conway Mill
5/7 Conway Street,
Falls Road, Belfast 13 2DE

No 16 Moore Street

A Chairde,

I understand it is planned to destroy n∞16 Moore Street and adjacent buildings, Dublin.

N∞ 16 Moore St may appear a modest building compared to many others in the city, yet its importance for the history of the country is indisputable, and far from 'secondary', as was stated in a letter from the Dublin City Council I came to know of recently.

So once again, a historical building is to be slaughtered, to be replaced by a hotel and a shopping center maybe, like the architectural monstrosity that is the Ilac Centre?

Hasn't this area been wrecked enough? Should the area around the fruit and vegetable market - and many others I guess - expect the same fate, given what I recently saw there? Isn't it time to preserve what makes, historically, and architecturally, the peculiarity, the soul of the city?

Some may argue that it is now time to leave the past behind and look towards the future. But should 'future' systematically mean destruction?

Should 'future' mean preposterous so-called monuments as the Spire, the cost of which might well have been saved for more constructive purposes ?

Some may argue that keeping such relics of the struggle for freedom from the grip of the British Empire might risk fuelling resentment against England, at a time when reconciliation is supposed to be on its way.

My answer, as an historian and art historian working for the French National Museums, is definitely No.

No, you can't build the future by wiping away the past, and by destroying its witnesses. Isn't Ireland what she now is thanks to the men and women of 1916, who ignited the spark that led to independance?

Ireland should not follow the example of France where the irresponsible destructions of the 1960s, '70s and '80s are now bitterly regretted. But once a building has been knocked down, it is gone forever. And regrets won't do anything to bring it back.

Ireland should not follow the example of France, which has grown generations of teenagers and young adults now utterly ignorant of their past, and whose cultural life is a wasteland because generations of politicians and theoreticians of education thought it wise to eliminate history, specially national history. Because history doesn't help make money. Because national history was supposed to fuel hatred towards foreigners, to be an obstacle to a multicultural society.

Yet, what France now has to face is a growth of racism, of misunderstanding between the communities living on the French soil: young French people, who do not know a word of their own history, who would spit on the national flag and boo the national anthem facing young foreigners from Africa, mainly North Africa, but also Central and Eastern Europe, who have also lost their own identity. Each one violent and filled with hatred.

My experience, because I am daily in contact with people, especially young ones from the most varied social and ethnic backgrounds, has taught me that if you are deprived of your past, you can't enjoy what makes a good deal of life's interest, but even worse, the one facing you easily becomes a threat, because you have no real identity to cling to.

A strong national identity on the contrary eliminates the threat. Because it makes you strong enough to cope with creeds and ways of life which are not yours, and accept them parallel to yours.

The memory of the past is an indispensable part of this national identity, and buildings such as n∞16 Moore St are among the multiple roots of an Irish identity.

In my opinion, the area should be renovated and NOT demolished for replacement. One Ilac Centre is enough. And n∞16 might become part of the National Museum for the display of whatever has to do with the history of Ireland in the 20th century, or possibly widen the scope to the history of the past two centuries. There is enough, I know, in the national collections, a tiny part of which only can be seen at the moment in the one gallery devoted to this period in the Kildare Street National Museum building.

The idea put forward in a letter from the Dublin City Council to think of an area in the GPO for this purpose seems to me ridiculous, because the ideal building for it exists. It is n∞16 Moore St.

Véronique Crombé
ConférenciËre des Musées Nationaux

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1