THE PRESERVATION OF a section of Moore Street in Dublin which was the final meeting spot of 1916 Rising leaders will be discussed at an Oireachtas committee today.
However, while several campaigners who are in favour of preserving the buildings in full will speak at the meeting, the Committee said that the actual owners of the site will not. Chartered Land, the owner, “declined an invitation to address the meeting,” said Labour TD Michael McCarthy.
He is chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, and said that “every effort was made to facilitate” the attendance of representatives of Chartered Land. The company had wanted to to give its evidence in private session, said McCarthy.
“Given the importance of the site, the Committee feels that this issues should be addressed in public,” he said.
Today’s meeting will begin with a presentation from Emeritus Professor Loughlin Kealy of UCD on the general principles of preserving historic buildings. The site at Moore Street (particularly No. 16), in the heart of north inner city Dublin and just off Henry Street, was the final headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising after they evacuated the GPO. McCarthy said:
The Moore Street buildings and the laneways around them are of huge national and historical importance. The buildings form part of the most important battlefield site in modern Irish history. Some of the buildings are in a state of neglect and are subject to a planning application.
The Committee believes that this is an important issue which needs to be resolved. Given the fact that we are approaching the centenary of the 1916 Rising, it is important that the area is developed in a manner that respects the historical significance of the site.
The Oireachtas committee does not have any power to impose a decision on the fate of the Moore Street buildings but McCarthy insisted that the meeting was intended to get “all those with an interest in the site an opportunity to put their views on the public record”.
Chartered Land, “Ireland’s leading retail and commercial office space provider in the Greater Dublin Area” – owned by NAMA developer Joe O’Reilly – oversaw the refurbishment of the ILAC shopping centre, beside Moore Street, in 2008. Planning permission had been granted for a “retail-led mixed development” in a 5.5-acre ‘Dublin Central’ site which touches parts of O’Connell Street, Henry Street, Parnell Street and Moore Street. UK department store John Lewis is to be an anchor tenant and there is a plan to build a 700-space car park on the site.
Early last month, Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan had said that he had ordered an environmental impact assessment of Nos. 14 to 16 Moore Street. He wants to see the report before making a final decision on how the buildings might be incorporated into the Chartered Land retail centre plans.
A preservation order given the houses in 2007 – making it a national monument – means that no changes can be made to the buildings without ministerial consent. How the approved shopping centre might incorporate or affect the buildings, which are in a state of neglect, has yet to be decided.