Our campaign group was represented on Moore Street this morning, New Year’s Day, to begin another year of campaigning for the conservation and sensitive renovation of this iconic Dublin City street market and 1916 Battleground area.
As expected, no stalls were in operation and though some of the independent businesses were closed too, a number were open. The ILAC shopping centre, half-owned by Hammerson and to the Moore Street entrance of which they want to cut a street from O’Connell Street, was closed.
We have not missed the first Saturday in January in Moore Street since 2015 (nor, until this one just gone, a Christmas Saturday since 2014). And it was in the first week in January that we noted the imminent demolition plans for three buildings there and gave the call for emergency demonstrations in the street the week after – that led to the famous occupation of buildings for a week, followed by a six-week blockade of the buildings to prevent any demolition, then the High Court decision that the whole area is a 1916 National History Monument – only to be overturned in appeal a year later by the Minister of Heritage. And so on we go …..
Dublin City Council’s Planning Department have not yet responded to the Hammerson shopping district plan for the area from O’Connell Street to Moore Street – against which many formal objections have been registered — so there is no news on that yet.
Meanwhile, the native and foreign property speculators who destroyed so much of Dublin in the 1960s and the banks that supported them caused the crash not so long ago but they are back in action again.
The hotel development plan at the Cobblestone traditional music pub has been turned down but the applicants may appeal the decision. We learn that another plan at Arnotts at the spot where Connolly’s ankle was smashed by British Army fire, junction of William Lane with Middle Abbey Street, has been approved. Change is a constant in any city and nothing wrong with that – the questions to consider are whether the changes are good ones and who do they benefit.
We learned of major shop-front closures in Grafton Street. The pedestrianisation of that street was a healthy change for the south Dublin City centre but filling it with high-renting British and US high-street chain-stores was not a good plan.
The allegiance of those chain-stores is only to their CEOs and shareholders and wherever their Head Office is located.
Independent businesses on the other hand tend to grow in a specific location and to have a relationship with their neighbours in the area. They also try to stay open while the chain stores close late afternoon, leaving a lifeless and sometimes intimidating street (like Henry and Grafton streets). Property speculators tend to concentrate on retail instead of a healthy mix of retail with bakeries, cafés, restaurants and pubs – such as Moore Street had in the past.
The street and town in general being so quiet today we decided not to set up the table and with Covid19 infection rates soaring thought it probably best not to be handing out leaflets either. In fact over the holiday period some of the group have tested positive and some others, as close contacts of other infected people, have been or are still self-isolating. Thankfully none have been very ill.
So the team today, Orla, Emily and Diarmuid just unfurled the banner and had a couple of photographs taken. A passing man from Turkey agreed to take the photo of the three of us (Diarmuid was complaining afterwards that no-one reminded him to take off his cycling helmet, saying he looked like a spaceman or something). After chatting a bit and wishing some of the independent shop workers a happy New Year, we headed off and will be back arís an Satharn seo chugainn.
We renew our commitment to the struggle for the year ahead and wish our supporters go léir Ath-Bhlian faoi mhaise for the year ahead.