Dubliners welcome heritage plan to keep 'tacky' shops off O'Connell Street
A NEW Dublin City Council plan to protect the character of O'Connell Street was broadly welcomed by the public and business people yesterday.
A proposed council scheme seeks to prevent the opening of any new fast-food outlets, amusement arcades, adult entertainment stores, bookmakers and mobile phone shops.
The proposals will also impact on the future use of former Clerys department store, an iconic citadel of shopping for decades. It closed down in June with the loss of more than 400 jobs.
The scheme would require any changes in retail formats in "important historic stores" or their sub-divisions, to be subject to planning permission, with the object of protecting traditional uses of such premises.
Aidan Meyler (45), co-owner of newly-revamped Flanagan's Restaurant on the street, agreed with a proposed ban on the opening of certain types of "tacky" business premises.
"We have put a lot of effort and expense into improving the look of our frontage and it has paid off by becoming a beacon for tourists. All businesses on the street should be encouraged to upgrade the appearances of their premises," said Mr Meyler.
"Many people like to complain about O'Connell Street, but I believe there have been massive improvements in recent years. It's not a 'no-go' area and there is still a 100,000 footfall of people daily using the street," he said.
June Taylor, a member of the sales staff of McDowell's Happy Ring House jewellers, said it was vital to protect quality retailing on the street.
"McDowell's have been here for 145 years and I agree that quality retail shops need to be preserved. I would like to see the Clerys building preserved as one big shop to encourage customers and tourists into O'Connell Street. Its closure has reduced the numbers of visitors and shoppers on the street," she said.
Padraig McCormack (30), a staff member of Brannigan's Bar in Cathedral Street, said there were already "too many fast-food joints" in the area. "You don't see cheap bargain- basement-type shops on the Champs-Elysees in Paris or in Oxford Street in London, so why should the O'Connell Street area have to have so many?" he said.
Imelda Mulligan (45), from Castleknock, said there should be more Irish craft, linen, and woollen shops to attract more tourists.
Catherine Mockler (20) said: "I think the plan is a brilliant idea. It's our heritage. We already have a surplus of adult shops and bookies and there's no need for any more."
Her friend Annabel Laffan (20) said the area needs to be brought "more upmarket" to appeal to visitors and that Clerys format should be retained.
Sarah MacGiollariogh (20) of Templeogue, said the historic character of the area must be protected. Her friend Hannah Meaney (22) said: "Keep it classy, Dublin."