Friday, February 14, 2014

One Door Down From History

Ireland's history as a republic is a short one. Not even one hundred years old yet, and already there is talk of demolishing an area that played a key role in the 1916 Easter Rising. It isn't in the poshest part of town. It's quite rundown, really. Wouldn't it make a better shopping mall?

 Despite the disaster that was the property market meltdown, there are developers who long to develop something and what better something to develop than an area in need of refurbishment? Sprinkle in a little talk of jobs gained, taxes acquired, improved living conditions, and planning boards across the island sit up and take notice.

Do that to an area that should be sacred and you'll find people who cherish their history, the history that their great-grandparents saw in the present tense, and you get an uprising of another sort.

Next to the historic building at 14-17 Moore Street is Paris Bakery, a thriving establishment that gives work to 70 people. They've been told by the authorities in charge of redeveloping the area that they have to go. The reason given? The bakery has to be torn down so the historic building next door can be shored up.

Which would remove the historic building entirely from its context as a terrace building, making the location of the rebel headquarters the only thing considered worth saving. Seal the building into amber, and put a shopping center around it. Maybe 14-17 Moore Street could become an exhibit within the shopping center?

The people who own the bakery cannot afford to move. They have equipment that would have to be dismantled and installed elsewhere, which involves costs that require money and the cupboard is bare. Assuming they could locate something with rents equally affordable that suited their needs.

The National Assets Management crew wants to move the parcel on to someone else so that the government can recoup some of the money lost when the banks went belly-up and the State moved in to shore them up. To the beancounters, shifting as much of Moore Street as possible would be a good thing. Irish history? That's in the past, and aren't they saving the one single structure that really matters?

History is, unfortunately for NAMA, priceless. The area they are willing to see torn down is an area that should be protected and preserved. Instead of encouraging a developer to tear it down, they should be looking for a developer willing to restore and rehabilitate.

That way, 70 people could keep their jobs. Real jobs that actually exist. As compared to the rosy projections of a developer who is most interested in his own profit, even if it comes at the expense of irreplaceable artifacts.

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