Demolition of 1916 leader O'Rahilly house an "act of corporate vandalism"
"It's carried out under the guise... a false premise in my view, and as I said it is, to say the least, legally questionable."
A Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor has labelled the demolition of the O'Rahilly house "an act of corporate vandalism", while a party TD described it as a "wanton act of vandalism". Dublin City Council is investigating the circumstances surrounding its demolition.
Michael O'Rahilly (known as The O'Rahilly) was an Irish Volunteer and a leader of the 1916 Rising who lost his life on Moore Street during fighting on Easter Week 1916, the only leader of the rebellion to be killed in action. He left his house, at 40 Herbert Park, to join the fighting on Easter Monday 1916.
The house had been placed on the Register of Protected Structures by the Dublin City Council at their September meeting, having earlier advised An Bord Pleanála to permit the building of an aparthotel extension and 105 apartments.
Shame on The McSharry and Kennedy building families demolishing the O'Rahilly house in Ballsbridge at 6.30am this morning.
Undue haste!!#ourhistory #theorahilly#easterrising #ballsbridge pic.twitter.com/Rk4rxqJc8N
— Chris Andrews TD (@chrisandrews64) September 29, 2020
It is understood that the house was demolished early on Tuesday morning, despite Eoin Keegan, the Chief Executive of Dublin City Council, having written to the developers, Derryroe Ltd., to advise them that the process of protecting the building had begun.
Speaking to JOE, Sinn Féin Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha said that under legislation, the structure was protected.
"At the September monthly meeting of Dublin City Council we voted unanimously on a proposal from myself that this building be added to the list of protected structures," he said.
"Now, under the legislation, once that process begins of assessment and so on, the structure is protected. So as far as I'm concerned... it's an act of corporate vandalism," he continued.
Mac Donncha also stressed the historic importance of the house, not only as being the place that The O'Rahilly left from to join the 1916 Rising, but also where key events such as the Howth Gun Running and the Battle of the Customs House were organised. It was also the home of Nancy O'Rahilly, Michael's wife, who was involved in Cumann na mBán and "a revolutionary in her own right".
The Councillor also pointed out a perceived contradiction in legislation allowing the demolition of the O'Rahilly house originally.
"The irony is that the planning application to demolish this house was under the Strategic Housing Development, which supposedly was enacted to fast-track the delivery of necessary housing, but of course what's going to be built here is not going to address the housing crisis in anyway," he said.
"We're talking about a luxury hotel, luxury apartments that will be way, way beyond the reach of any normal person in this city or this country. So it's carried out under the guise... a false premise in my view, and as I said it is, to say the least, legally questionable."
Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Culture and Arts, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, also labelled the demolition "a wanton act of vandalism on our culture and historical heritage" in a statement released on the Sinn Féin website;
“The campaign to save the O’Rahilly house has received widespread and deserved support from the public... For the developers to raze the building to the ground, particularly in the knowledge of that decision by Dublin City Council, is reprehensible", he said.
“This is a grubby and calculated act of bad faith by the developers, and the McSharry and Kennedy families should be ashamed of themselves. I am calling on the Minister for Culture Catherine Martin and Dublin City Council to intervene immediately and order the developers to reconstruct the O’Rahilly House brick by brick to its former state."
In a statement issued to JOE, Dublin City Council confirmed that it "is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the demolition of 40 Herbert Park. Once the City Council has ascertained the facts it will take any appropriate action."
This article was updated to include the statement from Dublin City Council.