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Vote on contentious 1916 museum delayed AGAIN

The ‘land swap’ deal is opposed by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Greens and People Before Profit.

Patrick Cooney and James Connolly Heron at Moore Street.
Patrick Cooney and James Connolly Heron at Moore Street.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 7.20pm

MEMBERS OF DUBLIN City Council will not vote on the contentious Moore Street ‘land swap’ deal as planned this evening.

Speaking at the beginning of tonight’s meeting, Lord Mayor Christy Burke informed councillors that the leaders of each party on the council had agreed to postpone the vote as “additional information” has arisen in relation to Number 10, Moore St.

Burke said that while the vote could take place next week, the council may need a number of weeks to consider the new information.

Councillors were expected to vote down the deal today — meaning that a proposed 1916 museum at the site won’t go ahead in its current planned form.

Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, People Before Profit and the Greens all plan to oppose the proposal from Council bosses, as the local authority holds its monthly meeting this evening. A number of Independent councillors are also expected to vote against it.

This is not the first time the vote has been delayed.

Members were initially due to vote on the plan at last month’s meeting, but the decision was kicked down the road for four weeks in the hope that a compromise could be achieved.

Discussions between councillors and developers Chartered Land did take place over recent weeks, members said. However, it appears little has been achieved — and the political groupings on the council haven’t altered their fundamental positions on the project.

Even it the deal was accepted at this evening’s meeting, the proposed project would have had a deadline of just two weeks before the 2016 centenary celebrations. The latest delay means the proposal, if accepted, may well not be ready in time.

What’s being proposed?

In a nutshell, the plan would involve Chartered Land carrying out €9 million worth of restoration works to turn 14 to 17 Moore Street into a museum centre, with funding coming from NAMA. The Council would then take over ownership of the museum.

In exchange, the local authority would hand over numbers 24 and 25 Moore Street — currently the location of a cleaning depot. It’s planned that land would be used for the development of a large-scale shopping centre.

The leaders of the 1916 Rising surrendered in the building at 14-17 Moore Street, which is also the site of where the provisional government was headquartered during the Rising.

Those in favour of the project are arguing that it would represent positive progress in establishing a National Monument, which could be enjoyed by the whole city in time for the centenary.

Those against say the entire terrace of Moore Street, between Henry Street and Parnell Street, should be preserved. Some contend the issue of the ‘artificial’ deadline is forcing councillors’ hands, and that more time should be taken to get the project right.

That said, it’s a complex issue — and the debate has been rumbling on for years.

The views

Councillors on either side of the debate who spoke to TheJournal.ie this morning conceded that it would essentially be a case of “back to the drawing board” for the plan if, as expected, members vote ‘no’.

“It certainly is,” Councillor Seán Haughey of Fianna Fáil said.

“It would be really, really challenging [to complete the project] anyway, even if the vote is passed tonight. I personally don’t think it’s possible.”

I think it’s more important to get it right rather than rush into something that may not be feasable.

Haughey said he hoped the developers would reconsider the scale of their shopping centre project, and submit new plans.

It’s really not an ideal scenario to have a giant shopping mall dwarfing the National Monument.

Sinn Féin’s Michéal MacDonncha — who, like Haughey, also sits on the council’s Moore Street Advisory Committee — said the ‘land swap’ plan hadn’t changed significantly in the last month, in spite of the delay of the vote.

“Its basically the same proposal.

You’d end up having an island of history in an ultra-modern shopping centre.

People Before Profit councillors met this afternoon to discuss the project — but the group is also expected to vote against the plan in its current form.

The three Green members will also reject it, Councillor Ciarán Cuffe said.

Cuffe (who is also an architect) also hopes the result of the vote will help persuade Chartered Land to come back with a scaled-down plan, he said.

The current make-up of the Council [TheJournal.ie]

Those for…

Members of Labour and Fine Gael are expected to vote for the ‘land swap’ at this evening’s meeting — but the two parties have just 16 seats between them on the body, and look likely to lose the vote.

Veteran councillor Dermot Lacey — who leads the Labour group, and has been a longtime campaigner on the issue of Moore Street  — said the deal being offered was the only realistic way forward.

“When we started this campaign the objective was simply to preserve number 16 Moore Street.

“I think there’s a point in time where you have to realise you’ve got a lot more than you’ve asked for.

My view is, let’s get on with it.

Lacey added that he was concerned the current impasse may be indicative of  ”how the City Council is not going to run for the next five years”.

We seem to have a huge amount of councillors who know what they’re against, but haven’t worked out what they’re for.

“I think the package on offer is a good one, and I certainly will be voting for it.”

From Fine Gael, group leader Councillor Kieran Binchy agreed that the plan was “the only realistic proposal on the table”.

What we’re being asked to do is to swap the non-historic buildings in the ownership of the Council for the historic buildings in the ownership of the developers.

The package that was due to be voted on today “doesn’t affect the existing planning permission for a shopping centre” next to the site, Binchy said.

And he insisted that anyone who was interested in having a museum in place for 2016 “would vote yes” in this evening’s vote.

Additional reporting: Órla Ryan

The Council meeting began at 6.45pm this evening. You can keep an eye on proceedings live here — and follow the hashtag #DCC for updates from councillors. 

Originally posted at 11.28am.

Read: Why are councillors getting so worked up about the 1916 site at Moore Street?

Read: Who is your new local councillor? Here’s a list of everyone elected

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