At the end of February 2022, Moore Street campaigners took to the street to express our determination to save the 1916 Moore St Battlefield site from the developer’s wrecking ball and the planners who are willing to allow the destruction of our urban history and heritage in the name of profit.
Dublin City Council’s decision to grant planning permission to Hammersons to build a bland shopping centre is flawed as it fails to recognise the responsibilities of the present generation to protect and conserve our national historical heritage as it has prioritised the commercial objectives of the current zoning of the area to the complete detriment of the historical and heritage objectives as contained within the current Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022:
CHC20: To support the retention and refurbishment of the cultural quarter associated with 1916 on Moore Street.
CHCO31: To develop a 1916 Historic Quarter, including Moore Street, with its National Monument and historic terrace, an appropriately developed street market, the GPO and Parnell Square, creating an integrated historic, literary and commercial focus for the north city centre and providing for tourism and to prepare a Development Brief for the Moore Street Area which addresses the above.CEE18: (VI) “To recognise the unique importance of Moore Street Market to the history and the culture of the city and to ensure its protection, renewal and enhancement, in co-operation with the traders as advocated by the Moore Street Advisory Committee Recommendation relating thereto.”
The development will result in the over-intensification of commercial retail activity and foreclose forever the possibility of creating a world-class historical Revolutionary Quarter with the 1916 Moore Street Battlefield site at its heart. The unique history and heritage of the Moore Street area will be destroyed and lost to future generations. In the words of Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins: “This area belongs to no one individual, group or party. It belongs to the people”.
The Moore Street battlefield site is comprised of the following: Moore Street, Moore Lane, Henry Place and O’Rahilly Parade.
As the 2016 High Court ruling (Record No. 2015/696/JR Record No. 2016/51/MCA Record No. 2015/387/MCA) stated, ‘there are a number of reasons why the Moore Street Battle-Site is unique. Three of these reasons are as follows. First, the Easter Rising was a pivotal event in Irish history. At the very heart of the story of the Rising, steps from the iconic GPO, sits the Moore Street Battle-Site. Second, the Moore Street Battle-Site is the place to which the men and women of the GPO fled, where battle was done and surrender was negotiated, and a site where workers, civilian and combatant, lived and died in what was, to a large extent, a workers’ rising. Third, significant physical fragments of the Moore Street Battle-Site landscape and streetscape survive; this is not true of many of the sites of the battles done at Easter 1916.’
Again, the 2017 Report of The Moore Street Consultative Group to The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, The Moore Street Report – Securing History, recognised the ‘Moore Street area offers a unique opportunity for development as part of a cultural historic quarter. This can serve to honour its history, promote economic regeneration and community renewal and transform current dereliction’.
That ministerial consultative group recommended to the then Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs that ‘fresh development plans for the Moore Street area are required – to address the protection of the Street and its historic buildings, the line and key buildings of adjacent lanes and to appropriately recreate a sense of the area as it was in 1916 – “a moment in time”.’
This recommendation was not pursued, developed and implemented; instead, we are faced with a planning permission that encapsulates a private corporate vision for the area which seeks to maximise profit-making and minimise the historical importance and significance of the area.
The Securing History report and the High Court ruling both recognise what the majority Irish public opinion believes is the unique significance of the Moore Street battlefield site as the birthplace of the Irish Republic, the site in which a colonised people struck for freedom and independence.
The recommendations of the ministerial Securing History and Securing History 2 reports incorporated many of the recommendations of the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street which published The Moore Street Battlefield Site Plan: The Lanes of History in 2016:
‘The retention of Moore Street and adjacent lanes so as to broadly capture the sense of how it would have appeared in 1916 – this covers the street and lanes, key buildings, street paving and lighting. It recognises that this needs to be approached on a practical and authentic basis given that a number of structures in place actually postdate Independence. The preservation of the existing lines of the street and the lanes and the restoration of streetscapes are essential.
The retention of historical structures and of the line and form of the block 10 – 25 Moore Street is also integral to this approach. Collectively these buildings can offer a mix of cultural, historic and commercial spaces. Quite critically, opportunities arise for the State to provide the centre point of historical focus and cultural celebration within 10 – 25 Moore Street.
The endorsement of the renovation/retention of the O’Rahilly Parade, Moore Lane and Henry Place so as to appropriately reflect their place as part of the historic events, the retention of key landmarks, the retention of the lines of the lanes with the full restoration of the existing granite sett lane surfaces, kerbs and street furniture and the development of walking trails through these areas.
A vision for the development of the Moore Street battlefield area as part of an historic cultural quarter, as reflected in the Dublin City Development Plan for 2016 – 2022. This provides for a cultural quarter in the Parnell Square area and the inclusion of the GPO/Moore Street area as part of a revolutionary trail linking sites such as Boland’s Mill, Kilmainham Gaol, Richmond Barracks and Arbour Hill.’
Alongside the rejuvenation of the Moore Street market, the above clearly offers an alternative to the current planning permission, an alternative that will achieve what the current planning permission, if allowed to proceed, will destroy: the protection, conservation, enhancement, regeneration and transformation of the Moore Street area into a 1916 Revolutionary Quarter linked to the GPO and Parnell Square that will provide present and future generations of Dubliners and visitors alike with a life-enhancing historical, cultural and leisure experience.
Moore Street and the 1916 Easter Rising
After a long campaign in the run up to the centenary of the Easter Rising, a number of buildings on Moore Street were declared protected structures, with numbers 14 to 17 Moore Street designated as national monuments, while 10, 20 and 21 are protected structures. But the battle to preserve the site for the people of Ireland and beyond is on again as developers Hammerson have refused to give assurance that the buildings will not be demolished.
We believe that the massive UK property company has turned down several requests from the council to allow an internal inspection of the premises. Hammerson’s plans are for the development of a shopping centre on the heritage site.
Independent Left councillor John Lyons described the company’s actions as ‘giving the council the two fingers’.
A broad campaign to save Moore Street from the property speculator Hammerson’s is underway with the goal of rejecting the property speculators’ plan and instead, developing the area as a historic quarter, including the retention of the street market.
The Moore Street Report
In March 2017, a comprehensive report on the future of Moore Street was published by the Moore Street Consultative Group. In the report, to which Councillor John Lyons as a DCC representative made a major contribution, the main recommendations are:
1. The development of the Moore Street battlefield area as part of an historic cultural quarter, as reflected in the Dublin City Development Plan for 2016 – 2022.
2. The renewal of the Moore Street market and the avoidance of the demolition of historic structures.
3. The retention of Moore Street and adjacent lands to capture the streetscape of 1916.
4. The retention of the line 10 – 25 Moore Street (the State already owns 14 – 17 Moore Street).
5. A ‘moment in time’ approach to internal restoration (that does not exclude a visitor centre and/or museum).
6. The renovation with contemporary lane surfaces, kerbs and street furniture of O’Rahilly Parade, Moore Lane and Henry Place.
7. The regeneration of the Moore Street market via improved provision of services for street traders.
8. Policy for the area to remain with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, while the development and management of the National
Monument at 14 – 17 should transfer directly to the Office of Public Works (OPW).
9. Consensus engagement with public bodies, developer interests, traders and voluntary
10. The establishment of an Advisory/Oversight Group.
11. Resources to allow this group to secure input from relevant experts.
12. The State to lead in the establishment of a visitor centre / museum.
13. A cross-departmental group to be established to oversee a coherent, strong approach by its agencies.
14. The following timeframes be put in place to benchmark progress:
• Agreement and establishment of the Advisory/Oversight Group – six weeks;
• Framework of consensus secured on alternative development arrangements for Moore Street and its lanes – six months;
• Planning permission lodged with DCC – within six months subsequently.
Read the full report here.