Official statement to an Bord Pleanala – April 2009

The Save 16 Moore Street Committee
C/o Mark Price Architect
29/31 South William Street
Dublin 2

“20th/24th April 2009

We, the members of the above organisation wish to make the following submission in respect of a proposed development on the Carlton Cinema site, which site consists of the majority of a city block, bounded by Parnell Street, Moore Lane, O’Rahilly Parade, Moore Street, Henry Street, Henry Place and O’Connell Street.

The Save 16 Moore Street Committee is an organisation which includes a number of the descendants of the patriots who were engaged in the 1916 Rising, many of whom were subsequently executed.  Our organisation has a long and well established history of representation – relevant to the building’s preservation – with the State, Ministers, Councillors, TDs and local business and is considered the pre-eminent representative group relevant to the building’s ultimate designation as a National Monument. Members include John Connolly, a grandson of James Connolly, one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and the leader of the Irish Citizen Army, as well as the great grandson of The O’Rahilly, after whose great grandfather O’Rahilly Parade was named and who was also a leading participant in the Rising and features in subsequent events as a matter of historical record thereafter.

The specific aim of the organisation is to ensure the protection of Number 16 Moore Street and its immediate environs and to ensure that all development in and around this part of Dublin, and indeed in Dublin generally, reflects and is sympathetic to the ideals and the memory of those people and places which featured in that Rising which, it is accepted, was a fundamental catalyst in the founding and the formation of the State.

Our organisation is particularly concerned about No. 16 Moore Street and would be very concerned to ensure that this structure is retained because of its historical importance and its particular significance in the context of the 1916 Rising and subsequent aftermath.    We are concerned, furthermore, to ensure that the National Monument (comprising Number’s 14,15,16 and 17) (Question 1 – This could provide a difficult question for John Connolly to deal with in cross-examination, because it is a mis-statement of what actually constitutes the National Monument. Unless we have a solid answer for John to deliver, we would be better off not to use this statement) on the subject site is sensitively and appropriately dealt with as part of any overall re-development of the site.

The Committee is a full appellant and lodged an appeal in respect of the development by notice dated 20 January 2009.

Significant developments have occurred since the date of the lodging of that appeal(Question 2 – Ditto to Question 1; needs a solid answer.  This statement raises a question of we having “sold out” to the developer on the integrity of the full National Monument and if we cannot come up with a really robust answer, we would probably be better advised to leave this statement out altogether.) and in the circumstances of this application we would now wish to make the following submission, which should supersede our previous submissions and has been formulated in the context of the revised proposal and our understanding of precisely what is now being proposed.

[Our original concern arose from the decision of Dublin City Council to permit the demolition of No. 16 Moore Street in the context of the previous re-development of this site granted under Planning Register Reference_____.]  This decision was of great concern, particularly arising out of the importance of this structure in the context of the 1916 Rising. The building is one of a terrace which was occupied by Connolly, McDiarmada, Pearse, Plunkett and Clarke during the withdrawal from the GPO and it was while in occupation of these buildings that critical decisions were made by the leaders (including the decision to surrender) and it was from there that the leaders were marched to Parnell Square and subsequently taken to Kilmainham Gaol  and execution.

The present proposal envisages not just the retention and refurbishment of this important building and its three contextual buildings, but its rededication to the memory of those  individuals and events which are so important to us.  We believe it is both appropriate and desirable in the context of the momentous events which occurred, that the heroic activities of those patriots will now be forever protected and honoured within the building, in the context of the new development now proposed.  The manner in which the present proposal preserves this building is very welcome.

In this context and having regard to the proposal as it has now been formulated we find ourselves in a position to support the proposed re-development as reflected in our formal observation and consider that it is desirable, in all the circumstances, that the overallre-development be permitted in accordance with the plans and particulars as revised and submitted to Dublin City Council, and as granted permission by the Council on the [      ] day of [                     ].    We have been shown precise details and have been given specific advice, including the advice of The O’Rahilly’s grandson (who is himself an architect and a valued member of our organisation) and we consider in the light of what is now proposed that our concerns in respect of the impact of the proposed re-development on the National Monument no longer apply. (Question 3; reservations as outlined in respect of questions 1 and 2 relate equally to this question 3)   It is accepted, as has been acknowledged by all reasonable persons, that it is appropriate and desirable that this land be re-developed.   The site itself and the dilapidated condition of the general area does no credit to those men and women who fought and died in this part of the City and its continuing decline and dereliction in no sense serves to honour them.    The patriots who were involved in the 1916 Rising would clearly have wished for and have envisaged the kind of re-development which would transform this site into a form consistent with a modern European city, as being entirely consistent with their ideals of a new republic.    It is in those circumstances that we believe that the present development strikes a balance between the preservation of and respect for the National Monument, while at the same time creating an appropriate urban form to reflect the realities of life in 21st century Dublin.

This part of Dublin was chosen as the headquarters for the rebellion because of its importance strategically, historically and culturally.  Being so chosen has transformed it into an important historical and civic space with a particular Irish nationalist identity which, as such, requires a development to match that level of importance.   We have examined very carefully the plans and documentation lodged and the extent of the efforts made to seek to reconcile the demands of a vibrant city with the creation of formal and informal public spaces and with the need to preserve and enhance those heritage and historical aspects (and in particular those associated, from our perspective, with the 1916 Rising).  We consider, in all those circumstances, that the response has been both appropriate and desirable.

It is accepted that there are a minority of our members who do not accept the majority decision which was taken by our organisation.   [The modified proposals and specific proposal with regard to the use and operation of 16 Moore Street was formally put within our organisation, and on two separate occasions a majority of the organisation accepted that this was both an appropriate and desirable approach to the re-development of this area and decided to support that initiative].   It is in this context that we come and make this submission to this hearing today.

We accept that a minority of our organisation took a different view and decided to join with others in pursuing different agendas and have come here to make separate and different submissions.    We do not accept the basis for those submissions and it is our contention that the proposed development should be permitted to proceed in its present form, subject to whatever conditions and modifications the Board might see fit to impose.    We believe that the uses proposed, the mix of uses and the degree of architectural sophistication exhibited within the scheme, as well as the care and attention which has been brought to each and every aspect of the scheme, deserves to be supported.  We are mindful of the difficulties of local people and traders and of the urgent need to re-develop this area.  We note that the Applicant is genuinely concerned to respond appropriately to the issues we have raised.  Of course we would prefer to have all of the issues resolved in our favour, but we accept that this would cause logistical difficulties and would tend to undermine the viability of the scheme.  The need to redesign would create difficulties in fulfilling the Council’s requirements as well as consigning the site to further decline. Consequently, we would urge that the scheme be permitted so that the decline and dereliction of this area be halted and that this new space, incorporating all of the important historic landmarks in a modern, but sympathetic setting, be permitted.

Yours faithfully,
For and on behalf of the Save 16 Moore Street Committee, John Connolly and Mark Price”