A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE MOORE STREET HISTORIC QUARTER ADDRESSED THE ANTI-INTERMENT MEETING AFTER OTHER SPEAKERS, TO ASK FOR SUPPORT FOR THE FORTHCOMING CAMPAIGN MARCH IN DUBLIN.
gabhaim buíochas libh as éisteacht a thabhairt dom agus buíochas freisin as cead cainte ag an ócáid seo ón Anti-Internment Group of Ireland.
A chairde, Níl saoirse gan stair. That is a saying in Irish which means “There is no freedom without history.” This is true in the sense that every struggle for freedom has a history but also in the sense that we cannot win freedom if we don’t know our history.
History is not dead; it is a living thing. We here today are all part of history, in our small way, part of the history of the struggle against the reintroduction of internment in our country, in particular in the Six Counties but creeping into the Twenty-Six as well.
History is not just about battles, although battles form an important part of the historical record. But more, history itself is a battleground! And there are historians who take their sides in that battle: some celebrate our struggles and relate the story of our heroes, while others lie about and twist our history, cast our heroes and martyrs as villains or even try to hide our history completely.
NÍL SAOIRSE GAN STAIR. Those who control the history of a people will find it much easier to control the people too.
On the Friday of Easter Week, as the GPO was in flames and the roof about to fall in, four evacuations from the GPO took place. There were two evacuations of Cumann na mBan, one of them taking the wounded under fire to Jervis Street Hospital. Then another two evacuations, one for a charge on the British barricade at the end of Moore Street, all of which were shot down, dead, dying or wounded. Another evacuation of more than 200 men and women occupied a terrace of houses, tunneling through the walls, from house to house and it was from there that they eventually surrendered on the Saturday.
For some reason that history was kept from us. As depicted in the Michael Collins film, where the GPO garrison is shown coming out from the GPO with their hands up, we thought that’s how it was. But it didn’t happen like that. The Moore Street history was kept from from us.
Decades later, in the 1970s, as property speculators crawled over Dublin and ripped it apart for their own constructions, a strong financial reason was created to conceal the Moore Street history. Then after 16 years of campaigning, the State finally granted a concession and nominated just four buildings as a National Monument. But their plan involved pulling down neighbouring buildings. This would then have facilitated the property speculator’s plan to demolish the rest and to build a huge shopping centre over and around those four houses, all the way from O’Connell Street down to Moore Street and all the way from Parnell Street down to Henry Street. Into that shopping centre, the four houses would be a shoebox museum, with a cafe inside and perhaps a Mac Donald’s on one side and a Starbucks on the other.
But they were stopped. They were stopped by men and women who occupied those buildings, and who blockaded it for six weeks.
Then there came that decision of a High Court judge, that the whole quarter was a historic battleground. Not just four buildings, not just a terrace, but other houses too, the streets and back lanes. He declared the whole to be a National Monument.
So of course there were great celebrations among the campaigners. But what happened next? The Minister of Heritage, which had been her title, announced she was going to appeal the decision. And the speculators asked for a seven-year extension on their planning permission, which it seems Dublin City Council will grant them.
NÍL SAOIRSE GAN STAIR. We are all a part of history. We need to know it. We need to defend it. Not for the past – or at least, not only for the past. But for our present. And for our future. The future of our children and of generations to come. A future free from colonialism. Free from speculators. Free from vulture capitalists.
As an aspect of that resistance, that defence of our history, we will be marching next week on Saturday in Dublin. There are leaflets here beside me on the table for you to take, not just advertising the event but also explaining the situation.
We would hope that you would all stand and march with us, shoulder to shoulder, in Dublin next week, in defence of our history against State and speculators, in defense of our heritage, our past and our future.
Go raibh maith agaibh.