Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Moore Street protected - I hope

Sinn Féin had brought a motion on the houses in Moore Street that were the last stand of the GPO garrison, but the government parties weren't supporting it; they had their own, more anodyne-sounding motion, referring only to the houses from 14 to 17 Moore Street, which were designated a National Monument in 2007 (bad) but saying they were "fully protected" (good). The motion passed, 78 to 38, after a bunch of idealistic speeches and some acrimony over party loyalties.
Every single TD or minister who spoke was in fervent favour of saving the terrace of houses in Moore Street and the surrounding streets and lanes through which the GPO garrison, those gallant 300 charged under machine gun and artillery fire from British posts at Amiens Street, Capel Street and Moore Street, those streets where The O'Rahilly died, where the surrender that was, ironically, the beginning of the War of Independence was decided.
The TDs spoke of the tourism potential, of the urgent need to reject the values of greed and stupidity that were at the centre of Celtic Tiger Ireland. Some took the 'We all partied' line (wrong; most of the country lived quietly and worked, their greatest sin an annual holiday to Marbella - it was only the rich that 'partied', and they're still rich). Mick Wallace, with a brief ass-saving tribute to the need for development, talked vividly about how cities should respect and preserve their historic quarters.
For those of us who weren't used to Dáil procedure, some things were odd - the little bow, like an old Catholic genuflexion, given to the Ceann Chomhairle's chair by deputies as they came in or out - a bit queasily servile and non-egalitarian to me; the way that TDs and ministers chatted while others spoke; the way everyone flooded in for the vote - supposedly they've been listening to the debate wherever they were, yeah, right.
And it was really horrible the way that some people refused even to look at members of other parties while they were speaking. Reminds me, in a reverse kind of way, of Macauley's line Then none were for the party, and all were for the state...
Anyway. Sinn Féin were warning that this might mean that the planning permission for a massive plastic mall full of British high street chains would go ahead, and the houses and streets through which the men and women of 1916 fought will be obliterated. I hope they're wrong. I hope that this means that the Oireachtas is at last waking up to the fact that domesticating and owning these streets of history is vital, essential, if we are to walk on into a new, prosperous, ethical, decent Ireland.
Best moment of the night: when Pat Wallace broke out into a brief ad break for his Italian Quarter, saying how lovely it looked in this evening's beautiful weather.

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