Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s National Programme of Events for the centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness challenged the Irish government on their failure to properly preserve and respect the Dublin battlefield site of Moore St.
“Moore St. was the last redoubt of the leaders of the rising. It belongs to the citizens of an Irish Republic.”
“It is our heritage and our legacy. It is not a gift for developers. The government must move to secure the site for future generations.”
Full text of his speech follows:
Dia daoibh go leor.
It is a huge honour, pleasure and privilege for me to be joining all of you here today for the launch of our party’s 1916 centenary programme in this historic venue – Wynn’s Hotel – which in itself has witnessed many of the events which have shaped the republican history of this island over the past century, including the formation of Cumman na mBan and the Irish Volunteers.
The 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic is a hugely significant moment for us all during this decade of centenaries period.
I want to welcome what is an impressive range of national events presented here today.
This programme is about republicans facing outwards and positively reaching out to engage the public, communities, including political opponents in a national conversation which examines where we have come from and where we are going as a country and an Irish nation in 2016 and beyond.
Easter 1916 was so hugely significant in both Irish and republican history because it captured not only the public imagination, but also the spirit of generation’s since, who have over a century of revolutionary struggle worked, fought and died for Irish freedom.
The centenary of 1916 will be proudly commemorated and remembered of course here in Dublin, but also nationally throughout Ireland north and south and abroad amongst our diaspora.
Today 100 years on, Irish republicans continue to strive towards the New Republic as imagined by the Citizen Army and Irish Volunteers of 1913 and Cumman na mBan in 1914, the Leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, the First Dáil in the Democratic Programme of 1919 and the modern day republican icons of 1981.
The political, social and cultural consequences of what occurred during the decade of 1912 -1922 still reverberate across our society to this day.
In 2016 the Irish people’s focus will be centred on those who lost their lives during the Easter Rising.
For us it is about national reconciliation, an end to partition and the achievement of a New Ireland – A real Republic where there is a place and space for everyone on the basis of equality to express identity, culture and rights.
It is about translating and applying the principles and ideals of the Proclamation to our own time.
Moore Street – National Treasure
I want to pay tribute and acknowledge the presence here today of the descendants of the 1916 leaders and the relatives of the rank and file volunteers who participated in the Rising itself.
Just over two years ago now in the winter of 2012 I had the huge honour, alongside our Culture Minister Carál NíChuilín, of welcoming some of the descendants of the 1916 Leaders, including relatives of Eamonn Ceannt, The O’Rahilly, James Connolly, Seán MacDiarmada and Joseph Plunkett to Parliament Buildings in Belfast.
It is fantastic to see you all here today. Ceád mile failte.
I met and listened to the relatives about the campaign to save Moore Street from demolition by developers.
This year marks their 14th year campaigning against proposals for its crude destruction by developers, and the need to preserve and protect what are the “lanes of history” around the historic GPO and battlefield area.
Moore Street was the last redoubt for the leaders of the rising. It belongs to the citizens of an Ireland. It is our heritage and our legacy. It is not a gift for developers. The government must move to secure the site for future generations.
I, like all of you share the deep concerns about the proposals for the Moore Street area and the detrimental effects on the historic heritage of the area, including the National Monument known as 14-17 Moore Street.
I believe that there would be nothing more fitting for the centenary of 1916 than for the State to stop plans for the historical, political and cultural wipe-out of what should be a national treasure we can all be proud of.
This entire area must be designated as a 1916 revolutionary and cultural quarter and have national monument status which, make no mistake about it, will become a mecca tourist attraction for visitors worldwide and contribute significantly to the local economy.
It is now time that the Irish people got energised about this campaign which is a non-party political project.
I would contend that all parties and traditions who do not necessarily share our republican ideology or viewpoint, would in fact recognise the importance of this site in the context of world heritage and history, like we do the importance of the Battle of the Boyne site where we have injected massive investment.
The GPO Moore Street battlefield is an all-Ireland heritage site which has enormous symbolism for the people of the entire island.
The time for the State to act on Moore Street is now.
This decade of centenaries is an important time for us all and from all traditions.
The 1916 Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic is being eagerly anticipated by Irish people throughout Ireland and among the diaspora and friends of Ireland abroad.
Over this decade we will commemorate the centenaries of many of the seminal moments that have defined modern Irish-British relations.
It would be very easy for each of us to only select our versions of that history and celebrate and commemorate that with little regard to other events and indeed the legacy of that entire period.
I would therefore invite people from all traditions on this island to embrace the issues, not as a challenge, but as issues that can be dealt with in an understanding and respectful way which is inclusive and dignified and which allows us to complete our journey to true national reconciliation.