Monday 17 December 2018

State wins order overturning declaration on 1916 Moore Street site

Overturns a series of findings in March 2016 judgment of the High Court's Mr Justice Max Barrett

Members of the Save Moore Street 2016 campaign during the Arms Around Moore Street demonstration
Members of the Save Moore Street 2016 campaign during the Arms Around Moore Street demonstration

Aodhan O'Faolain

The State has succeeded in overturning a judge's declaration that buildings and sites on and around Dublin's Moore Street are a 1916 Rising battlefield site comprising a national monument.

The Court of Appeal today said the High Court had no jurisdiction under Section 2 of the National Monuments Act 1930 to declare the buildings and site are a national monument as that was an issue of “pure policy” solely for the legislature to decide

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan delivered the court’s unanimous judgment. Mr Justice Michael Peart and Mr Justice George Birmingham agreed.

Colm Moore, who took the case on behalf of the 1916 Relatives Association, and relatives of the 1916 Rising leaders, were in court for the judgment. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Micheal McDonnacha, also attended.

After the judgment, lawyers for the Minister and Dublin Central Limited Partnership said they would be seeking their legal costs against Mr Moore. Costs issues will be decided later

In a statement, the 1916 Relatives Association thanked Mr Moore for taking the case aimed at preserving the Moore Street Battle site. The case is “an important element in the overall campaign to preserve, regenerate, enhance and re-define this iconic and historical quarter of Dublin”, they said.

The statement added it “is time for all parties to step back and consider the appeal court’s judgment and the issues involved with a view to allowing the Association and the Moore Street campaign to engage with the State and owners of the site to find “a common solution that can meet the needs and concerns of all the stakeholders and the Irish people”.

The Minister for Arts and Heritage and Dublin Central Limited Partnership (DCLP) - which bought some of the buildings and lands last year from another company, Chartered Land - appealed a series of findings in a March 2016 judgment of the High Court's Mr Justice Max Barrett.

In his 399 page judgment, Mr Justice Barrett, who visited the area during the hearing, granted orders preventing works to the buildings and locations at issue after declaring they constitute a 1916 Rising battlefield site comprising a national monument.

The orders also apply to a terrace of buildings at Nos 14-17 Moore Street, where the 1916 leaders met for the final time and decided to surrender. 

The Minister had argued it was adequate to protect only that terrace where it is intended to establish a 1916 Rising Commemorative Centre.

Mr Moore brought the proceedings against the Minister. Chartered Land, since replaced by DCLP, was subsequently joined as a notice party.

A core issue in the appeal was whether the High Court was entitled, in judicial review proceedings, to make the disputed declarations and orders, which the Minister alleges are of "enormous scope" and with implications for her powers under the National Monuments Acts.

The Minister also disputed there is any "battlefied site", arguing that was a "modern invention" more reflective of the state of the contemporary cityscape than what occurred in 1916.

Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, who appeared with Michael McDowell SC, for the Minister, argued the orders have prejudiced the Minister in exercising her functions.

In opposing the appeal, Michael Collins SC, for Mr Moore, argued the finding of a 1916 Rising battlefield site comprising a national monument was "strongly supported" by evidence, including from historians and two former directors of the National Museum.

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