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1916 relatives lose battle against the State in case over Moore Street site

One of the street’s buildings is declared a national monument.

James Connolly Heron, Proinsias O Rathaille and Donna Cooney of the 1916 Relatives Association.
James Connolly Heron, Proinsias O Rathaille and Donna Cooney of the 1916 Relatives Association.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE COURT OF Appeal has overturned a High Court ruling which had declared some buildings on Dublin’s Moore Street to be part of a battlefield site comprising a national monument.

The State had taken the appeal after the High Court had found in favour of Colm Moore, who had taken the case on behalf of the 1916 Relatives Association.

In 2015 the government stepped in to buy the site at 14-17 Moore Street, the building where the Rising’s leaders decided to surrender, and declared it a national monument.

The 1916 Relatives Association had argued that other buildings on the street were also entitled to protection and took a case to the High Court.

In late 2016, the High Court ruled that No. 10, part of No. 13 and Nos. 18, 20 and 21 Moore Street were also part of the battlefield site.

But in a judgement today, the Court of Appeal has found that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to declare these buildings as a national monument.

The three-judge ruling said that this is a “purely policy” decision and could only be done by the government, which is “answerable to the people”.

The Court of Appeal found that the National Monuments Act 1930:

cannot be constitutionally interpreted as to vesting the courts with this function of declaring a particular monument to be a national monument where (as in the present case) this would entail the courts making purely policy assessments without reference to established legal criteria.

“Specifically, the courts could not be given the jurisdiction to make such a determination by reference to purely policy considerations such as whether the preservation of a particular monument was a matter of national importance,” the ruling added.

Reaction

Reacting to today’s decision, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said that the State had taken the decision to appeal the High Court judgement following concerns that it could have had implications for “important national infrastructure projects”.

“This was an extremely complex and wide-reaching case and I will study the judgment in detail with my officials to see what the full effect of it is,” the minister said.

The preservation of the State-owned national monument building at 14-17 Moore Street – the final headquarters of the 1916 leaders – and opening them to the public, remains the top priority and will obviously be the major influence over our thinking.

90424024_90424024 The Moore Street site. (Pictured in 2016) Source: RollingNews.ie

The 1916 Relatives Association has said it is not currently considering an appeal to the Supreme Court but will study the judgement in detail before responding in full.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with today’s result, but the campaign to recognise and celebrate the historical and cultural significance of the Moore Street area will go on,” the association’s Donna Cooney said this afternoon.

Cooney, who is also a member of the Green Party, said their priority is to have a “cultural quarter” in the area.

“We have a unique opportunity to preserve this historic quarter, and link it up to the new cultural quarter at Parnell Square and the GPO museum. This would be hugely beneficial for the area and add so much to the city,” she said.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín said that the area has been ”sterilised by years of legal cases” and called on the Taoiseach to “do the right thing” and declare the entire site as a national monument.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the government would like to “read the judgement ourselves”.

Read: 1916 victory: Moore Street has been declared a ‘battlefield site’ >

Read: Government to appeal decision to protect Moore Street battlefield site to Supreme Court >

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Rónán Duffy

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