High Court declares Moore Street ‘battlefield’ site a national monument
He further found that the Oireachtas has not conferred any function or role on the Minister of Arts in relation to defining what could be considered a national monument.
Rather, a “monument” could be considered as constituting a “national monument” by virtue of the operation of statute and the presence of certain objective factors.
There was therefore “no reason for the court or anyone else to defer to the opinion of the Minister as to what is or is not a “national monument.”
In cases where there was a dispute between parties with regards to the status of a particular monument as a national monument, the judge found that it was open to the courts to declare whether or not a particular “monument” was indeed a “national monument”, provided the dispute could be framed within legal proceedings.
In terms of the standard of review to be applied to the decision of the Minister, the judge found that “there is no scope for a reasonableness-type standard to be applied ‘à la’ O’Keeffe v. An Bord Pleanála 1 IR 39. While the making of a preservation order clearly shows that the Minister has formed a view as to the existence and scope of a “national monument”, there is no requirement at law, nor does there even appear to be any basis in the natural comity that exists between the great organs of state, for the court to defer to the views of the Minister in this regard, albeit that the court will doubtless have regard to the basis for those views and such other evidence as may be furnished before the court.”
Turning to the specific buildings of Moore Street, the judge observed that “what is at issue in the within proceedings is not ‘just’ an urban battlefield. What the court is confronted with is an effort (a) to recognise as one or more national monuments, and (b) to see preserved, certain buildings and environs that are associated with the opening battle of Ireland’s ultimately successful early–20th century bid for national independence.”
Further, the judge found that “The re-establishment of our national freedom and the efforts of the men and women who participated in the initial rising which secured that enduring achievement, makes the events of Easter 1916 worthy of singular commemoration, just as our enduring national liberation is worthy of continuing celebration.”
The High Court thereby granted a number of reliefs sought by Mr Moore, and restrained the Minister from carrying out any further work to numbers 13-19 Moore Street until she gave consideration to the judgment, and reconsidered her view that there is no wider 1916 Rising “battlefield site” on and around Moore Street.