I am very glad to have the opportunity speak in support of the motion before us tonight urging the Government “to act without further delay to ensure the full preservation of the national monument and to develop a plan to transform the GPO-Moore Street area into an historic quarter and battlefield site”.  The motion is signed by some 50 Members of the House.  The signatories to this motion come from differing political backgrounds and viewpoints.  These are Deputies who might not agree on much – in recent weeks we have been in deep disagreement on some important issues facing the country, notably the stability treaty – but on this issue we are at one.
 
I have no doubt many Deputies on the Government side of the House feel equally strongly on this issue and would happily sign this motion if they had the opportunity.  This need not and should not be a cause or an opportunity for political point scoring across the House.  The issue is not whether we believe in preserving and protecting this site.  I believe there is near unanimity in this House on that.  The issue is about demonstrating the clear and absolute resolve in achieving it.
 
 The clock is ticking on this issue.  While some may comfort themselves thinking the 1916 centenary is almost four years away, that time will pass quickly.  Deputies should bear in mind it is already more than five years since Mr. Dick Roche as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government placed a preservation order on Nos. 14-17 Moore Street under section 8 of the National Monuments Act 1930.  I suggest we do not have four years, or anything like it, to resolve this matter.  It is vital to get this matter resolved positively and speedily as we are entering a decade of important and significant commemorations for communities and traditions both North and South.  For republicans and Nationalists the Easter 1916 commemorations will be the high point of that decade of commemorations, but there are other commemorations in that decade that are of considerable importance to our island as a whole.  These include the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the 1913 Dublin Lockout, and the formation of the Irish Volunteers.
 
 The Moore Street site is only a short walk from the Rotunda Hospital where the Irish Volunteers held their first meeting in 1913.  The former Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, set the tone for this decade of commemoration in a speech to UCD’s Institute for British-Irish studies in May 2010:
 
The events of the decade between 1912 and 1922 were momentous and defining ones for all of the people of this island, and indeed for these islands.  This was the decade of the covenant and the gun, of blood sacrifice and bloody politics, a time of division and war, not only on this island but across the world.  It was the decade that defined relationships on these islands for most of the last century.
 
The Minister, Deputy Deenihan, chairs the Government committee that is tasked with co-ordinating and choreographing many of these commemorations.  That decade has already commenced.  Last April saw the anniversaries of the foundation of the Ulster Volunteers and the publication of the third Home Rule Bill.  As the year progresses the Minister and his officials will increasingly find themselves engrossed and focused on the range and variety of commemorations.  That is why it is vital the issue of Nos. 14-17 Moore Street is resolved and acted upon now.  My fear and the fear of many of us in Fianna Fáil is that the longer the protection of the Moore Street site is delayed, the less of the historic site will be left to protect and preserve.
 
The Government must act now.  This is not a matter of questioning or doubting the Minister’s commitment to the aim, but rather one of requesting that the Minister and his officials show greater resolve and determination to finalise the issues quickly.  We are aware there are complications and differences of opinion.  We also realise there are varied interests and the Minister’s powers are limited.  The Minister’s leadership is needed to progress this important issue.  The laneways and streets surrounding Moore Street are some of the most historic in the nation.  They are among the last remnants of the battlefield that part of Dublin became during the Easter Rising.
 
The Moore Street buildings we are discussing tonight are where the leaders and defenders of the first Provisional Government retreated from the burning GPO.  It is where, on 28 April, the leaders of the rebellion decided to surrender.  Moore Lane still contains some buildings and cobblestones from the period.  This is where the fight continued as the 300 men of the GPO garrison sought to make it to safety in the Moore Street buildings while under fire from British guns.  Many of the original Easter Rising buildings no longer exist.  The former Liberty Hall is gone.  Having been so heavily shelled and attacked, the GPO is now effectively a reconstruction.  The building, where the Proclamation was signed by Tom Clarke, Pádraig Pearse, James Connolly, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett, Thomas MacDonagh and Eamonn Ceannt, no longer exists.  The site is now marked by a tarnished and hard to spot plaque on the outside wall of a store on Henry Street.  It is from 16 Moore Street that Pearse sent Cumann na mBan nurse, Elizabeth O’Farrell, under a white flag, with a note for General Lowe stating he wished to surrender.  Nurse O’Farrell subsequently carried Pearse’s instruction to surrender to Boland’s Mills and Jacob’s factory.