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1916 Quarter Development Bill 2015

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Bills\1916 Quarter Development Bill 2015\Second Stage

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1916 Quarter Development Bill 2015

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Deputy Dara Calleary

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Dara Calleary

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Snippet Contents:

I congratulate Deputy Ó Cuív, our colleagues in Seanad Éireann, led by Senator Darragh O'Brien, and the Fianna Fáil councillors in Dublin City Council who came up with this idea and worked with various political parties, groups and relatives to bring this proposal forward. This Bill owes its genesis to Dublin City Council and the acknowledgment within that group that they are unable to do this the way it should be done. The model we propose, which Deputy Ó Cuív has spent significant time developing, is a specific company and operation to drive this development.
The notion that we should exclude areas of Moore Street because they retain "little of the physical fabric" of the past is nonsensical. It is not the physical fabric we seek to retain and commemorate. We seek to remember what the men and women of 1916 did. They gave their lives and put them on the line. Regardless of whether they did that in one building rather than another, the whole area needs to be maintained and restored as a monument, not just to them but to this country and its people. The model we propose will do that.
Passing responsibility back to Dublin City Council puts it on the long finger and this time next year, when we come to the end of the commemoration year, all we will have had will be a series of commemorations, celebrations and parades, with no lasting legacy. Will we have provided something or added to what is there to mark the centenary in a permanent way? I do not believe so. The fact the Government continues to talk about passing responsibility back to Dublin City Council shows a complete lack of ambition and understanding of the importance on the area. The Government's focus on buildings as opposed to the area and what happened there constrains that vision. This proposal seeks to provide a lasting legacy.
It is wonderful that every community throughout the country will share in the celebration, because it is the country's Proclamation. However, the fulcrum and where it started must be protected and there must be a proper ambition in that regard. What we have currently, with the retention only of the commemorative centre, leaves the rest of the area to the whims of developers and profit takers, the very kind of people the 1916 leaders and participants revolted against. We are now handing Moore Street and the area where people laid down their lives to them and nobody is showing any concern about what these developers may do.
Yes, we will have a commemorative centre but will we have a Starbucks beside it and is that appropriate? Yes, we will have a commemorative centre but will we have car parks on the other side of it and is that appropriate? Yes, we will have a commemorative centre but the Government keeps saying we should pass responsibility for the area back to Dublin City Council. However, what has it done with Moore Street and O'Connell Street since 1916? Not a lot because it does not have the resources, the ambition or the appreciation that what is at stake here involves more than just buildings. It does not appreciate the importance of what the area means to people.
One benefit that will come from the celebrations next year is that the people of this country will be able to show what 1916 means to them. They will be able to show in the 21st century that the values of republicanism and putting one's country first are still important. The ambition of the men and women of that time needs to be matched now by the men and women of the current and incoming Government. This is the way to do it. This Bill provides a properly thought out and resourced model. It involves the many actors and players in this sphere.
It is ridiculous that in one of our final votes before we begin the centenary year, the Government will seek to divide this House around how we appropriately commemorate the battle site to which this country owes its freedom. It will bring in its Members, many of whom have no interest in this issue, to vote against a proposal that seeks to do the right thing and reflect the ambition and courage of the men and women of 1916. That courage is not reflected in the Government's approach to this Bill and that is deeply regrettable.