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1916 Quarter Development Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed) [Private Members] (Continued)

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 901 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michelle Mulherin: Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin] The body of work that has been done locally and nationally is very important. I look forward to 2016 and a lot of conversation about our country in terms of the journey it has been on, the reality of that journey and the difficulties experienced in that regard, which are so often forgotten. As we move forward, we must do so in a positive vein with great hope for the future of our country in terms of the legacy that has been given to us by our forefathers.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan: Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan I welcome the opportunity to speak on this subject tonight. I do not in any way doubt the motives of Fianna Fáil in bringing this Bill forward. It is right and proper that we commemorate those who died a century ago. The Minister mentioned that the Bill as currently drafted is ill-conceived, that it is not well-constructed and that it could potentially be unconstitutional in some respects. For that reason, my colleagues and I on this side of the House will be opposing this Bill.

  The Government is committed to commemorating the legacy of 100 years ago. In this regard, it recently purchased Nos. 14 to17 Moore Street. We can expect to see the new commemorative centre opened there next year. A new visitors centre will also be opened in the GPO. These are two excellent new additions to the Dublin landscape that will be appreciated by residents of Dublin and visitors from outside the capital, including foreign visitors. They are fitting tributes.

  As a Deputy from outside the capital city, I wish to focus on two issues. First, the Rising did not only happen in Dublin; it also happened outside the capital. Second, as a nation we will be commemorating a series of historical events over the next few years, all of which reflect the maelstrom that existed in Ireland and the world in the 1910s. In regard to the Rising having also taken place outside the capital, in my own county of Meath a battalion led by Thomas Ashe was ordered by Pádraig Pearse to defend the area around Fairyhouse outside what is now known as Ratoath. Following that, there was a major battle in Ashbourne during which the rebels in a six-hour battle captured arms and vehicles. They only surrendered 24 hours after the Rising collapsed on the orders of Pádraig Pearse. Thomas Ashe is currently the subject of a plebiscite in Ashbourne in terms of a proposal to rename Broadmeadow Street as Thomas Ashe Street after the leader of that rebel battalion. A handful of residents in Broadmeadow Street will be voting on that this week. We are looking at other ways of commemorating the fact that the Rising also took place outside Dublin. I have no doubt that next year there will be events in places like Ashbourne to commemorate those battles.

  Other events took place 100 years ago that are not related to the Rising, for example, the involvement of people from Meath in the First World War. I refer in particular to the poet, Francis Ledwidge, who, like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, was a war-time poet. Sponsored by Lord Dunsany, he was a prolific poet by the time he signed up to fight in the First World War. He did so because he thought it was unreasonable to expect others to defend the rights that he was taking for granted. He fought in Gallipoli, which he survived, but was wounded. While recuperating in hospital in Manchester, he heard about the death of one of the leaders of the Rising, Thomas MacDonagh. Many people who fought in the First World War did so because they saw it as their duty as nationalists to defend the rights of the free world that were under threat.

  Francis Ledwidge, although a fighter in the First World War, wrote a lament for Thomas MacDonagh, who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, the first verse of which I would like to read into the record. It states:

He shall not hear the bittern cry

In the wild sky, where he is lain,

Nor voices of the sweeter birds,

Above the wailing of the rain.

Many people will remember that from their days at school. I was delighted that Deputy Quinn, during his tenure as Minister for Education and Skills, put Francis Ledwidge back on the leaving certificate course. It is a fitting tribute, bearing in mind the upcoming commemorations. Francis Ledwidge lost his life at the Third Battle of Ypres and is buried at Passchendaele. Although he never returned home to Meath, he is remembered. Last week, I attended the launch of a CD of his works in the village of Slane. Yesterday, it was announced that a commemorative stamp will be issued on the centenary of his death in 1917 to reflect the role he played not only as one of Ireland's leading war time poets but as one of Ireland's leading poets of the last century. It is worth while remembering individuals who played such a major role in shaping the Ireland we now live in and enjoy. The purpose of these commemorative events, the Easter Rising commemorative centre and the new visitors centre in the GPO is to ensure that the next generation do not forget where they came from. It is important the next generation learns about the sacrifices made by others to ensure they could enjoy the rights available to them in this country. It is vital and imperative that we remember that. For that reason, I am delighted that the Government is spending so much time and effort ensuring that a range of centenaries are commemorated and are given the respect they deserve.

  While I accept the motives behind this Bill, I am unable to support it for the reasons I outlined earlier.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Derek Keating): Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating The next speaking slot is being shared by Deputies Michael Kitt, Sean Fleming, Brendan Smith and Seamus Kirk. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Michael P. Kitt: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I thank Deputy Ó Cuív for the opportunity to discuss the 1916 quarter development. Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis an Teachta Ó Cuív. Tá an Bille seo an-tábhachtach. Tá sé ag plé le gnóthaí níos mó ná reachtaíocht ón Rialtas. Tá sé ag plé le h-athchóiriú ar Moore Street agus ar an GPO agus ar fhoirgnimh cosúil le Boland's Mill, South Dublin Union nó Ospidéal Naomh Shéamais, an sean monarcha Jacob's, an Royal College of Surgeons, Mount Street agus foirgnimh eile. Tá sé an-tábhachtach go mbeidh athchóiriú i lár Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath freisin.

In welcoming this Bill, I re-emphasise the need for identification of all of the sites associated with the Easter Rising and, as outlined by Deputy Ó Cuív, the need for a freedom trail and a lasting investment in our history and heritage. We all know there are opportunities to view the history and heritage of Dublin, whether by way of bus or a Viking tour. However, as suggested in the Bill, there is a need for investment by the development company in these areas. It is important these places are safeguarded and given the recognition they deserve.

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