Speech by Mary Lou McDonald at Preserving Our Past, Rising to Our Future Moore St conference

“It’s the right plan to achieve the cultural, social, and economic regeneration of this incredibly important part of our great city.”

Speech by Mary Lou McDonald, Moore St conference, GPO, 24 April 2024

Every nation that has fought for its independence has its sacred soil, its revered buildings, its hallowed ground.

Ireland is such a nation.

Places imprinted with the legacy of our proud revolutionary history, touched by noble rebellion, which today echo still with the courage and inspiration of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

We meet in the GPO.

One hundred and years ago today, outside this building, Padraig Pearse read aloud the proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Not only was it a notice of revolt, it was a clarion call to the future.

A parchment that poetically expresses a hope that has reverberated through the generations. An Irish republic: Ireland; free, united, equal, and prosperous.

Today, we still reach with hopeful hearts for that Ireland that can be.

If we walk a just short distance from here, we come to Moore Street.

Moore Street is part of the 1916 Battlefield site – the laneways of history.

This includes the historic terrace at 10-25 Moore Street, as well as the GPO, the “White House” and O’Brien’s Bottling Store in Henry Place, and the lanes, streets and boundaries of Moore Street, Moore Lane, Henry Place and O’Rahilly Parade.

The area is at the heart of our fight for independence.

16 Moore Street is where five of the seven signatories of the Proclamation met for the final time. It was the last HQ of the 1916 government of the Irish Republic.

It was in the buildings, streets and laneways surrounding Moore Street that the Irish republic was born and where it was defended for six days by gallant patriots who believed in a better future with all their hearts.

The battlefield site has been described by the national museum of Ireland as the “the most important historic site in modern Irish history.”

A century after the Easter Rising, 14-17 Moore was recognised by the High Court as a National Monument.

The revolutionary legacy of this historic area belongs to us all.

It is also the location of Dublin’s oldest food market, one that predates the famine, where generations of people have come to witness and soak-up our capital city’s heritage and tradition every day.

Today, on the anniversary of the Rising, we came together to rally behind an ambitious vision for the Moore Street area.

A vision that is not only worthy of its standing in our nation’s story but one which will drive regeneration, and an exciting future.

The Master Plan presented by the Moore Street Preservation Trust is that vision.

It is a plan that weaves together much needed housing, retail, and cultural experiences throughout the historical quarter.

It’s framed by the idea of the ‘economic of uniqueness’ whereby city centre cores are revitalised through investment in the unique historical and cultural characteristics of a city to create compelling experiences.

Where revitalisation is advanced through the rejuvenation of Dublin’s distinctive built architectural heritage.

This modern approach is driving the regeneration of city centres across the world – creating jobs, delivering new opportunities, fostering social progress and empowerment, and growing local economies and tourism sectors in a resilient and sustainable way.

This is what Dublin needs, and it’s all possible, all achievable.

The Trust’s Master Plan undoubtedly has the potential to utterly transform the inner city and act as a catalyst for the future regeneration of Dublin’s Northside.

For too long successive governments and Ministers have not only abandoned the area to neglect but have actively obstructed and delayed acting to ensure the revitalization of the Moore Street area and the historical quarter.

The result of the neglect is clear.

Our city needs to be safe for the people who live here, work here or for those who visit.

This is a great city. A welcoming city. A city that has achieved great things. A city whose greatest days are yet to come. Our communities deserve to be safe.

Yes, that means increased Garda resources, but it also means backing strong communities and strong, safe communities grow from the grassroots up.

This means investing in community development.

It means investing in our amazing young people so that they have the best opportunities to fulfil their incredible talent and boundless potential.

If regeneration is about anything it must be about charting a better, brighter future for young people.

We must remember that our revolutionary generation always had their eyes and their hearts fixed on tomorrow, on the need to ensure that Republic lives beyond them and in the pulse of everyday life in Ireland.

The Trust’s Master Plan recognises this responsibility. It’s hardwired into the very fabric of this vision, a vision that remembers our past and rises to our future.

The Moore Street area and its legacy must remain in the hands of the people. It’s far too precious a part of our history to be handed over to private developers intent on tearing it down for profit.

Heritage and culture must be at the heart of the future of Moore Street, instead of the current Hamersons plan which is focused on commercial gain alone.

The government should withdraw its backing for the Hamersons plan and instead throw its weight fully behind the vision for Moore Street as set out by the Moore Street Preservation Trust.

It should also progress and action the Ceathrú Chultúir 1916 Bill drafted by Aengus Ó Snodaigh and passed unanimously by the Dáil in 2021.

The Bill’s proposals fit seamlessly with the Trust’s vision and would develop the historic 1916 quarter as a living museum.

Creidim go huile ‘is go hiomlán gur féidir linn todhchaí níos fearr a bhaint amach do Shráid an Mhúraigh a thugann onóir dár stair, a thiomáineann athbheochan eacnamaíoch-shóisialta, a chuireann deireadh leis an neamh-aird agus a athraíonn ó bhonn an tsráid ríthábhachtach seo dár gcathair.

Friends, what happened in the areas surrounding Moore Street one hundred and eight years ago changed the course of Irish history.

The leaders of the rising who met for the last time at 16 Moore Street knew the importance of seizing the moment.

This is our moment, and we should seize it with both hands. Delivering the vision of the Moore Street Preservation Trust is the most appropriate way to honour and protect our heritage and traditions and bring the inspiring history of this area back to the people.

It’s the right plan to achieve the cultural, social, and economic regeneration of this incredibly important part of our great city.

And, if we all work together, we will save Moore Street and preserve its legacy for this future for this and future generations.