New centre to remember 1916 Rising could face legal battle
PLANS to develop a commemorative centre at the site of the surrender of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in time for its centenary have been thrown into serious doubt amid threats of legal action.
Art and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan approved proposals to restore four buildings of historic significance on Dublin's Moore Street just last month.
However, relatives of the Rising leaders have indicated they are unhappy with the plans and are considering seeking a judicial review, which could significantly delay the project.
The current proposals will see four buildings – 14-17 Moore Street – preserved as a national monument, with remaining buildings on the street to be demolished as part of a shopping centre development planned by NAMA-controlled Chartered Land.
No 16 was the final headquarters of the Rising leaders before their capture and execution.
The buildings at 14-17 were designated a national monument by former Environment Minister Dick Roche in 2007, but have deteriorated into a derelict state.
Jim Connolly Heron, the great-grandson of James Connolly, criticised the plan, saying it ignored the findings of an expert report which detailed newly discovered cellars under buildings on the street.
Mr Connolly Heron said it also did not take into account opinions expressed to the minister by successive directors of the National Museum of Ireland, who had reservations about the destruction of buildings on the street and the suitability of turning 14-17 into a commemoration centre.
"The minister and the department have ignored the experts in the field on this," he said.
Mr Connolly Heron said that if political pressure failed to call a halt to the current plan, he would consider seeking a judicial review of Mr Deenihan's decision and possibly of the planning process.
"I accept it would be nice to get something in place in time for 2016. But there is no point rushing things just to meet that deadline," he said.
He said each of the 16 houses on the street had been occupied during the Rising and deser- ved consideration for preservation.
A report commissioned from Garland Consulting Engineers by the National Graves Association and a group called Concerned Relatives of the Signatories of the 1916 Proclamation identified newly discovered cellars at the rear of the Moore Street houses.
Parts of the cellars are outside the specific area designated a national monument.
A spokesman for Mr Deenihan said the matters raised by Mr Connolly Heron were outside the minister's legal remit and largely related to planning decisions by Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanala.
He said the minister had examined the Garland report and that the cellars within the boundary of the national monument would be protected.