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Snippet Contents:

I would like to read a quote which states: Just as the Leaders signed their own death warrants when they signed the Proclamation, in leading the charge from the GPO the O'Rahilly showed the same courage when he faced almost certain death. This is not just a place; it is a place where real people and real events shaped our history. That is part of the reason the preservation in Moore Street needs to go beyond the four buildings that make up the national monument.
The tone of 2016 commemorations need to be different. We need to both look back and commemorate the events in the present and, just as importantly, look forward. We need to capture the values that were outlined in the first democratic programme and build towards a real republic, look forward to the kind of republic we want to build, what the values should be that underpin it and what steps we need to take to achieve that aim because it is not just sovereignty that the men and women of 1916 aspired to; it was an independent republic where our citizens are equal and where our aim is to ensure all our people can live a dignified life.
I refer back to my own experience in 1966 when I was in primary school in Goldenbridge, which was just across the road from Keogh Square in Inchicore. The buildings were simply known locally as the barracks. It was the old Richmond Gaol where those who were picked up in the surrender and, indeed, those who were subsequently rounded up were brought, and for most it is where they departed from for English prisons, including my own grandfather who was sent to Stafford Gaol and then on to Frongoch interment camp in Wales. In 1966, the barracks was one of the last refuges for those, mostly families, who were homeless. Many of the windows had no glass, it was dirty and rat infested and poverty was endemic. The girl who sat beside me in school lived with her family in the barracks. While she was someone who carried herself with real dignity, there was no dignity about where she lived or how she lived. It was such a terrible irony that such poverty and deprivation could have existed in this of all places.
The commemorations were happening against that backdrop. Indeed, many of the city slums still stood in 1966 a stone's throw from O'Connell Street and the GPO. Just as 1966 was a marker in time about our social development, so will 2016. Surely 100 years after the Rising, the right to shelter should be a given. Surely that is one thing that should not mark the memories of primary school students in decades to come but it seems, unfortunately, it is destined to be for those who are currently experiencing homelessness, including many children. My own observation of Keogh Square as a youngster was life shaping and it certainly shaped my political opinions and outlook. It is part of why I find it totally unacceptable that the number of children who go to bed hungry is increasing and 140,000 children are living in deprivation in 2015, a number that has unfortunately doubled over the past five years. A poor child has a greater chance of being a poor adult. We cannot continue to allow this to happen. The litmus test of cherishing all the children of the nation equally must be given real meaning.
The legacy of 2016 must capture many things. First, the commemorations must be fitting. Second, the opportunity to conserve important buildings and places must be taken. The works on the Four Courts, the GPO and Kilmainham Gaol are good examples but the Moore Street battlefield site should be included. Third, it will be essential that we take stock and use the opportunity to build towards the kind of republic that we have never managed to build but which I believe can ultimately be achieved. Moore Street was a living street in 1916 and it can be again. It can live comfortably with being a battlefield site that is both an historical site and a living street. It will take a little imagination but we should not allow this opportunity to pass. If people review the papers in 50 years' time and see that some of us aspired to have the site preserved in context, they will look back and wonder, if we do not take the opportunity now, what value we placed on the events of 1916.