Appeal begins on High Court ruling over 1916 Rising site on Moore Street

By Ann O'Loughlin

The High Court's finding that buildings and sites on and around Dublin's Moore Street are a 1916 Rising battlfield site comprising a national monument was "strongly supported" by evidence, including from historians and two former directors of the National Musuem, the Court of Appeal has been told.

Com Moore, a nominee of the 1916 Relatives Association, has also submitted the Minister for Arts and Heritage is wrong to descibe his case over the site as "an abuse of process", involving what the Minister says is "a collateral attack on lawful decisions of administrative authorities", which should have been dismissed on that basis by the High Court.

Michael Collins SC, for Mr Moore, argued today the Minister had not, until this appeal, objected to the judicial review procedure used to secure the declaration of a 1916 Rising battlefield site from the High Court's Mr Justice Max Barrett.

The Minister had not raised the judicial review issue in the High Court even though Mr Moore's side had referred in his grounding statement for judicial review to the possibility of using an alternative plenary procedure involving a hearing on oral evidence, counsel said.

On the contrary, the Minister said the matter was "urgent" and was happy to proceed with judicial review.

Counsel said the Minister could also have called any evidence, including from historians, if desired and the Minister's lawyers were free to cross-examine the witnesses called by Mr Moore, which included historians Pat Wallace and Seamus Lynam, a former director and acting director of the National Museum respectively.

Mr Collins was making arguments opposing appeals by the Minister and Dublin Central Limited Partnership (DCLP) - which bought some of the buildings and lands last year from another company, Chartered Land - over the High Court decision.

In a 399-page judgment in March 2016, Mr Justice Barrett granted orders preventing works to the buildings and locations at issue after declaring they constitute a 1916 Rising battlefield site comprising a national monument.

File photo of Moore Street.

The orders also applied to a terrace of buildings at Nos 14-17 Moore Street, where the 1916 leaders met for the final time and decided to surrender. The Minister had argued it was adequate to protect only that terrace where it is intended to establish a 1916 Rising Commemorative Centre.

In the Minister's appeal, it is contended the High Court was not entitled, in the judicial review procedure, to make orders of such "enormous scope". It is also disputed there is any "battlefied site" with the Minister maintaining that is a "modern invention" more reflective of the state of the contemporary cityscape than what occurred in 1916.

Towards the close of today's hearing, Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, who with Michael McDowell SC, is representing the Minister, began submissions concerning the planning issues in the proceedings.

The Attorney argued Mr Moore's case should never have got as far as it had because, he submitted, the High Court cannot make orders which have the effect of restricting the functions of the Minister under the National Monuments Acts.

The Minister was permitted under the Acts to do such works as she considered necessary to and at a national monument.

He had made that argument to the High Court and it should have "disposed of the case in minutes", but the High Court reached a "remarkable" construction of the relevant provisions, the Attorney said.

The orders made by the High Court clearly prejudiced the Minister in the exercise of her functions, he said.

The appeal is expected to conclude tomorrow with judgment reserved.


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