Belfast Telegraph

Cautious welcome for 1916 site plan

Relatives of the 1916 leaders have given a cautious welcome to Government plans to buy the site where the rebels surrendered.

Some 4 million euro is to be spent on 14-17 Moore Street to restore the part of the terrace where key figures in the Rising held the last council of war and develop it as a commemorative centre.

Barry Lyons, honorary secretary of the 1916 Relatives Association, said concerns remained over what development would be allowed on the wider battlefield site at the back of the GPO despite the deal.

"It's good the state is buying the building but we have to wait to see the detail in it with regard to the rest of Moore St," he said.

"We'd give it a cautious welcome."

The near derelict buildings will cost about 4 million euro to buy before being restored and a commemorative centre being built, but it is not likely to be ready in time for the centenary.

James Connolly Heron, great-grandson of rebel leader James Connolly, said it was a step in the right direction but suggested the bigger battle was to make the original planning permission for a shopping centre on the site redundant.

"The national monument being taken out of private ownership is good, at least the deterioration of the site will now be addressed," he said.

"Our position has always been that there should be state intervention, from that point of view we'd still welcome it but it leaves the question as to what is going to happen in the rest of the area."

The relatives group met Heather Humphreys, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to hear detail of the plans for Moore St and for the wider 2016 commemorations.

"It is a very important building. It is a national monument. It will be a lasting tribute to the leaders of 1916," she said.

"It was where the final council of war was held and it is where the decision to surrender was taken."

No members of the British royal family will be invited to attend the commemorations, the minister confirmed.

"This is a celebration for the Irish people," she said.

The buildings on Moore Street are owned by Chartered Land which had planned a shopping centre covering 2.7 hectares from the old Carlton cinema on O'Connell Street to Moore St.

It is one project in the Government's plans for the centenary, which also involves 22 million euro being spent on seven by next Easter to create permanent reminders of the 100-year anniversary.

The 850 members of the 1916 Relatives Association last year boycotted the launch of the centenary by Government in the GPO last year claiming they were being frozen out of the celebrations.

16 Moore Street was the location where the decision was taken to surrender on Saturday April 29 1916.

It was declared a national monument in 2007 and an option had been put on the table to allow the developers to build the shopping centre with a commitment to creating a museum or interpretive centre at the site.

Campaigners had pressured the state into taking ownership of the entire terrace, including 10 Moore Street, where the Rising leaders fled to as British troops overran the GPO.

It is understood no decision has been taken on that building.

Christy Burke, the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Dublin, said he was delighted with the decision.

"It will now secure their future as a national monument by bringing them into public ownership," he said.

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