As growning numbers of TDs appeal for support from Government to save and restore the monument in the Dáil today, James Connolly’s great-grandson said it was a modest demand.
James Connolly Heron, who has been fighting for the restoration of the Moore Street site for the last 10 years, said Nama-funded plans to tear down surrounding buildings to make way for a shopping centre need to be blocked.
“People are waking up to the fact that we have four years until the centenary,” said Mr Connolly Heron.
“We need something to show the Gathering in 2016. Are we going to show people a monument to the rising, or are we going to show them a shopping centre that is a monument to the Celtic Tiger?”
Free state TD Gerry Adams has eventually got behind the Moore Street campaign, which aims to restore the row of houses from 14 to 17 – where the rebel leaders met for the last time – and turn the area into “a cultural educational centre of excellence”.
Deputy Adams has secured backing from some Fianna Fáil and Independent TDs, while Labour has previously gone on the record in support of the initiative.
‘It belongs to the people’
But Mr Connolly Heron warned the mission must not be eclipsed by political point-scoring.
“That would be dishonouring the people we are trying to honour,” he went on. “It doesn’t belong to any party, it belongs to the people.”
He pointed out that most political parties have some link with the 1916 Rising and therefore have an interest in saving the site.
“No public representative supports the plan as is,” he went on. “From that point of view we can be optimistic. It’s now time to take action. It’s time to walk the walk.
“It’s a very modest demand. What we are asking is that what is already a designated national monument be protected, so that future generations will still remember.”
Developers are looking to tear down buildings surrounding the row of houses that has been designated a national monument and is protected by law.
But campaigners have argued that erecting a shopping complex on top of the historic site was akin to vandalism.
It is understood those behind the plans are controlled by state-run Nama. Mr Adams said last week that taxpayers would be as good as funding the vandalising of a national monument if the plans are allowed to go ahead.
Sinn Féin will propose a Dáil motion during private members’ time tonight and tomorrow night.
The motion, which was drafted by descendants of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, including Mr Connolly Heron, already has the support of over 50 opposition TDs.
It asks for the Government to support the proposition to ensure the site is protected and preserved, and that the surrounding buildings, streets and laneways are retained with a view to developing the area as a historic and cultural quarter.
Sinn Féin will need the support from more than 30 additional TDs to gain a majority in the Dáil to pass the motion.