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Saturday 23 September 2017

Traders left bewildered by mysterious 'festival' that could cause chaos

Joe Macken has been left in the dark over the proposals
Joe Macken has been left in the dark over the proposals

A mysterious "festival" to celebrate Dublin's Creative Quarter in less than a fortnight has left local traders scratching their heads.

Restaurateur Joe Macken, owner of the Jo'Burger restaurant chain, said he and other traders in the area have been left perplexed and annoyed after representatives from Dublin Town met them last week to discuss hosting a festival celebrating the district later this month.

Improving

Mr Macken claims Dublin Town - a collective representing local business tasked with promoting and improving the capital - is keeping its cards close to its chest, failing to reveal any details of the event even though it is due to take place in less than two weeks time.

"I just don't get it," Mr Macken told the Herald.

He said he and other local business owners were invited to a meeting with officials last Wednesday, when they were informed that Dublin Town had permission to close off streets in the area for the event, which is reportedly due to take place on August 26 and 27.

"They couldn't tell us any details," Mr Macken added.

"They say it's going ahead but I've seen nothing about it. I've sent them emails, I've called them, I've tried to meet them, but there's nothing. There's no posters, there's nothing on their website.

"They had nothing in place. It seems really strange."

Despite several emails and phone calls to Dublin Town yesterday, the Herald was also unsuccessful in obtaining confirmation that the event is taking place or is even in the planning stages.

Mr Macken said the proposed event could have a negative impact on businesses that operate at the weekend, given that permission has been granted to close off some streets to facilitate the "festival".

Closure

The Creative Quarter is the district between South William Street and George's Street, as well as St Stephen's Green South to Exchequer Street. The area houses an array of popular shops, restaurants, cafes, boutiques and art galleries.

A closure of the streets will prevent trucks from making deliveries to the area and, traders say, will cause "intense disruption" to Fade Street, South William Street, Castle Market, Clarendon Street, Exchequer Street and Drury Street.

Mary Costelloe, owner of Costelloe & Costelloe boutique on Chatham Street, said the lack of consultation with businesses was causing them a lot of unnecessary stress and confusion.

"This event is about Dublin Town trying to justify their half-baked idea of a Creative Quarter and it's not about doing anything positive for business in the area," she said.

"It doesn't make sense to host this event at a very busy time of year.

"It is a badly thought out, calamitous idea and all of the businesses I've spoken to are utterly outraged."

The controversy over the festival has reared its head just weeks after Dublin businesses voted narrowly in favour of keeping Dublin Town's Business Improvement District (BID) levy following a No campaign by firms opposed to maintaining it.

There were 843 votes in favour of maintaining the status quo, with 715 opposed.

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