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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 23 October, 2016

“We want the Republic”: Rally to support Occupy Moore Street protesters

A crowd of around 200 people were addressed by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and other politicians.

moore1 Source: Hannah Parkes

CROWDS OF DEMONSTRATORS turned out to support a group of protesters that occupied buildings on Moore Street in Dublin this afternoon.

The rally – which was addressed by independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and other politicians – was held to oppose building works being undertaken on the street as part of the 1916 commemorations, which activists contend could destroy a site of historical significance.

Around 200 people attended the rally outside the terrace.

What’s going on?

Restoration work at the site on 14-17 Moore Street, where the decision to surrender to the British forces was made, began last November.

The row of houses was declared a National Monument in 2007 – but the question of what should be done with the site was the subject of fierce debate for years with plans suffering a number of setbacks. The government finally stepped in and acquired the site in March of last year.

The ‘Save Moore Street from Demolition’ group organised a rally yesterday following the erection of hoarding between 18 and 19 Moore Street – and around 15 people climbed on the scaffolding, roof and into the buildings.

More protesters joined them overnight.

In a statement this evening, the Save No 16 Moore Street Committee, which is led by members of the Connolly and O’Rahilly families, expressed concerns on the protests.

It said:

As a committed group that has campaigned for the protection and restoration of the historic buildings 14 -17 Moore Street and 8 & 9 Moore Lane, we fully support the work of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in its endeavours to establish a Commemorative Centre on the site, during the Centenary Year celebrations for the 1916 Rising.
Following consultations with building and conservation experts we have been given absolute assurances, and are fully confident, that the restoration work plans are being conducted in the most professional manner.  The protests that we are currently witnessing are causing unnecessary delays and are jeopardising having the restored buildings ready for centenary celebrations.

‘Not historically significant’

Speaking to yesterday, activist Mick Mooney said they plan to remain in the building until a resolution is put in place. The group is concerned that planning permission granted to developers of a shopping centre allows for partial demolition of Moore Street houses.

A spokesperson for heritage minister Heather Humphreys, who is heading up the 2016 commemorations, said she was very disappointed that any group “would attempt to delay these works and jeopardise the project”.

“Furthermore, the occupation of the building poses risks to the individuals involved and the building itself, which is in a very fragile state.

“Numbers 13 and 18 and 19 are not part of the National Monument, and are not historically significant.

“Minister Humphreys only has control over the National Monument. The development of the wider street is a matter for Dublin city council.

“Documentary evidence (Valuation Records 1911-1915, 1915-1925; Thom’s Directory 1915) shows that Nos. 18 and 19 (the former Paris Bakery) were in ruins prior to the 1916 Rising.

“There were no insurance claims made in relation to either building subsequent to the Rising. Evidence from the Ordnance Survey suggests that No. 19 was still in ruins as late as 1939.

No. 13 has received a new façade in modern brick. The interior is modern and nothing survives of the historic fabric.

Tight deadline

Work on the National Monument site is being carried out by Lissadell Construction, who were chosen in part for their experience on conservation and restoration projects.

While it’s expected the project will be completed later this year, it won’t be open by Easter. The plan is to allow some access to the site at the end of April to mark the anniversary of the surrender. 

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

Read: The government is going to buy the historic Moore Street site

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