Shops oppose Lockout commemoration on Dublin’s O’Connell Street
Main thoroughfare to be closed to traffic for for anniversary of 1913 industrial dispute
Police armed with clubs charge strikers during the transportation strike in Dublin in 1913. Photograph: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images
Dublin businesses have called for the reversal of Government plans to shut down one of the city’s main shopping streets for a commemoration day.
The Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) said restricting access to O’Connell Street to allow the State and community event marking the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lockout and Bloody Sunday would see shops lose trade on one of the busiest retail days of the year.
Richard Guiney, chief executive of BID, which represents 2,500 businesses in the city centre, urged organisers to reconsider the plans to close the busy thoroughfare to traffic as it is expected to affect around 65 per cent of potential visitors to the city.
“The lack of consideration for the ordinary people of Dublin is very disappointing and the lack of consultation gives rise to grave concern,” Mr Guiney said.
“It does not bode well for how the decade of centenary celebrations, which are fast approaching, will be managed.”
The street will be closed to all traffic for most of the day to accommodate the two-hour event, which will include an address from President Michael D Higgins.
Pedestrian access will be allowed and shops will remain open to the public.
The event will be held on Saturday August 31st to mark the anniversary of what has been described as Ireland’s greatest industrial dispute, when Dublin workers went on strike demanding better working conditions and the right to be represented by unions.
It also involved a riot, in which a police baton charge caused more than 300 injuries in a day known as Bloody Sunday.
Organisers - made up of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Office of Public Works and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht - have insisted they hoped to hold the commemoration on the Sunday, but were told it could potentially cause a public disorder problem.
The BID said that while it supports the commemoration, the capital’s premier street should be open to all shoppers on what will be the last Saturday before children go back to school - a day retailers expect to be busy.
It predicted that trade on the north side of the city would suffer by around 20 per cent, claiming deliveries would also be affected by the closure to traffic and public buses would be diverted, causing disruption to a large portion of Dublin citizens.
“On this occasion there has been no meaningful effort to understand or accommodate the 400,000 who just want to visit and enjoy our city,” Mr Guiney said.
“We are willing to meet anybody from any organisation to make sense of this situation and retrieve it for the benefit of all Dublin’s citizens.”