Friday 23 March 2018

'Shame on you' - Heather Humphreys heckled as she laid wreath at Moore Street for 1916 Rising Centenary

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Protestors dressed in period costume tried to upstage Arts and Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys during a State wreath-laying ceremony to honour the rebels of the 1916 Rising on Moore Street this afternoon.

Blowing whistles and shouting “Humphreys out” and “Shame on you”, members of the Save Moore Street protest group temporarily disrupted the synchronised wreath-laying ceremony.

The event took place at seven iconic locations of the Rising at precisely 1:15pm to mark the time when the first shots of the Rising were fired.

The noisy protest began as the acting minister approached a cordoned-off area outside number 16 Moore Street to lay one of two wreaths and was heckled.

In her speech, which was barely audible due to the protest, she paid tribute to those who fought for Irish freedom as well as the casualties of the insurrection, including 40 children who died after getting caught up in the gunfire.

The official State event went ahead nonetheless and descendants of those who fought in the Rising gave the minister a round of applause after the street went quiet for a minute’s silence.

Credit: Irish Defence Forces
Credit: Irish Defence Forces

After the event, however, members of Save Moore Street remained to carry on their protest as part of a campaign to protect a number of buildings on the street from demolition.

The street was the scene of the rebels’ ultimate surrender to British troops following heavy shelling of the GPO in which Rising leaders retreated to Moore Street.

They entered the former site of Dunne’s Butchers at number five and tunnelled from one house to another until they reached Plunket’s poultry shop at number 16 where they spent their final hours before surrender.

Many of the rebels died on the street and in the surrounding laneways.

The Save Moore Street group and the 1916 Relatives Group have been campaigning for a number of years to save buildings on the street from demolition.

They won a High Court injunction last week to halt demolition of some of the buildings, after Mr Justice Max Barrett declared the whole street a battlefield site.

Credit: Irish Defence Forces
Credit: Irish Defence Forces

This is after the State bought numbers 14-17 to be designated a national monument but planned to demolish numbers 13-19 which Ms Humphreys, as Heritage minister, has  claimed is “ not historically important.”

The matter is due back before the courts in April. The State has not indicated to date whether it will appeal the injunction.

However, Niamh McDonald of Save Moore Street called Ms Humphrey’s attendance at today’s event “the height of hypocrisy.”

“Our goal was to make Heather Humphreys know that we are not happy with her on the street,” she said.

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