Government has today, 25th July 2023 approved the masterplan for the National Centre for Research and Remembrance campus.
The National Centre, which will be located on the site of the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin 1, will stand as a site of conscience to honour equally all those who were resident in Industrial Schools, Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions, Reformatories and related institutions. The National Centre campus will also encompass social housing, facilities for further and higher education and facilities for the provision of community-based family and parenting supports, which will make a significant contribution to the long-term social and economic regeneration of Dublin’s north east inner city.
The masterplan, which can be viewed at www.gov.ie/nationalcentre, sets out high-level floorplans of the campus facilities, to include:
Archive and museum space within the historic convent and chapel buildings;
Newly-built archive and museum space adjacent to the historic buildings, encompassing a garden space for reflection and remembrance;
Purpose-built spaces for educational and community-based family and parenting support facilities; and
25 units of universal design social housing.
The National Centre campus will, by design, be both retrospective and forward facing. It will both recognise the disadvantage experienced by vulnerable women and children in the past and represent an active commitment to tackling disadvantage in the present day.
The National Centre for Research and Remembrance will stand as part of our national institutions. Work on the development of the museum and exhibition space is being led by the National Museum of Ireland, while work on the research centre and repository of records related to institutional trauma in the 20th century, is being led by the National Archives, under the auspices of the overall project Steering Group.
Looking to the future, Government gave approval in principle to:
Proposals for social housing, configured to universal design standards and appropriate to the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities within the North East Inner City;
The development of a lifelong learning hub for the provision of further and higher education; and
Facilities for the provision of community-based family and parenting supports.
The social housing units will be built by the Office of Public Works (OPW) which is also responsible for the overall construction of the campus. Dublin City Council, another member of the project’s Steering Group, will be responsible for ongoing management of the social housing.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) will now work on detailed proposals for bespoke facilities which would be dedicated to family and parenting services supporting good outcomes for children and their families. Meanwhile, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) will work to develop detailed proposals for the delivery of further and higher education. This will take the form of an ‘Access Hub’ provided through an innovative collaboration between City of Dublin ETB and Technological University Dublin. The Access Hub would provide flexible and accessible learning opportunities across the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), including the integration of a NFQ level 7/8 degree course to be delivered on the site.
When considering the regeneration of the North East Inner City, Government is committed to ensuring that the National Centre campus complements the proposed redevelopment of the nearby former Rutland Street School, which will encompass a crèche, community gardens, local radio station, enterprise incubator units and a café / community hall. These initiatives are in line with the core objectives of the Mulvey Report on the North East Inner City and the ongoing work of the NEIC Programme Implementation Board.
Speaking today, the Taoiseach said:
“The development of the Sean McDermott Street site is extremely important, both as a site of conscience honouring survivors of institutional trauma, and as a significant investment by Government in the economic and social regeneration of Dublin’s North East Inner City."
“As well as recognising and learning from our past, we are taking the opportunity to help build a brighter future for the community of the North East Inner City."
“It is entirely fitting that the National Centre for Research and Remembrance serves as a lynchpin for wider development of the campus to benefit the local community including: social housing; a lifelong learning hub for further and higher education; and facilities for community-based family and parenting services.”
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, said:
“Today’s announcement on the approval of the masterplan for the National Centre for Research and Remembrance advances a core commitment in the State’s response to the legacy of institutional trauma."
“Over the past three decades, Ireland has had a difficult reckoning with its history of institutional abuse. By creating a National Centre for Research and Remembrance, the State recognises the role of memorialisation in working to rebuild a relationship of trust and support healing for those who were so profoundly wronged. I believe the Centre will make a significant contribution in our journey of recognising and learning from the failures of the past and acknowledging the hurt which continues to be felt by survivors and their families."
"Additionally, the development of social housing, educational, family and parenting supports is an important step in looking to the future and will greatly benefit the area in which the Centre is to be located.”
On the archive and museum elements of the National Centre, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin said:
“The National Centre for Research and Remembrance is an important, sensitive and unprecedented project for Ireland. In tandem with the construction of the Centre and the associated regeneration benefits for Dublin’s North Inner City, the essence and import of this initiative also recognises the deep historic and human rights aspects of the project."
“I am pleased that my Department and associated agencies are so involved in this project, specifically in relation to the archival and research elements of the project as well as the museum and interpretive space.”
Regarding the development of education facilities, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris said:
"Today is a very significant day for building a more inclusive Ireland. I am delighted that approval in principle has now been given to developing proposals for the delivery of a lifelong learning hub model of education on the National Centre campus."
"A lifelong learning hub has the potential for boosting the rejuvenation of the inner-city area and supporting educationally and socially disadvantaged learners in accessing and participating in education within their community. Education has the power to transform and has benefits for the students themselves, their families and communities, as well as our wider economy and society.”
A Steering Group, comprising the key State stakeholders and chaired by the former Secretary General to the Government and current Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom, Mr. Martin Fraser, is providing strategic oversight for the development, coordination and implementation of the composite elements of the Centre. The Steering Group will continue to drive the initiative and work on detailed project plans, as well as the future operational and governance structures, for the Centre.
Consultation on the development of the National Centre
The masterplan, as approved today, outlines the space which will be available to each element of the National Centre. In approving the masterplan, Government also approved plans for an initial public consultation on specific elements of the Centre.
As such, Minister O’Gorman has today launched this consultation, which will focus on:
The museum and exhibition space;
The research centre and repository of records related to institutional trauma in the 20th century; and
The proposed garden space for reflection and remembrance.
The consultation period will run until 15 September, 2023. Interested individuals will be able to complete an online questionnaire or submit a written submission to the Department using the provided template. Further information is available on the dedicated consultation page
Speaking about the consultation, Minister O’Gorman said:
“The development of the National Centre in close consultation with survivors and former residents and their families, as well as other key stakeholders, is a key commitment of Government. I would encourage all of those with an interest in the development of the National Centre to engage in the consultation and have their say. The outputs from the consultation will feed directly into the Steering Group, and help to inform its ongoing work."
"It is important to also emphasise that there will be further targeted consultations on specific elements of the Centre - for example the museum interpretation experience; the space for reflection; and the educational, family and parenting supports – which will take place in due course. We also welcome submissions from historians, researchers, archivists and those in the local community on this initial consultation.”