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Bewley’s Café and Johnny Ronan

Sir, – The annual rent of €1.5 million charged to the owners of Bewley’s on Grafton Street, and which was a contributory factor in its closure, is astonishing by any standard (“Bewley’s on Grafton Street to close permanently with loss of 110 jobs”, News, May 6th).

The statement by the firm controlled by property developer Johnny Ronan that it had attempted to engage with Bewley’s is scarcely credible given that a previous request for a rent reduction had not been granted! – Yours, etc,

TADHG McCARTHY,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The closure of Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street in Dublin is a loss to Ireland’s heritage and identity. We now learn that the closure is primarily because of the landlord’s refusal to reduce Bewley’s €1.5 million commercial rent. Surely the question has to be asked, once and for all, as to what kind of Ireland we all want moving forward – one run by property conglomerates charging exorbitant commercial rates and for such properties to be occupied by only large international brands, or one where fairer commercial rates apply so as to enable the presence of treasured Irish brands too, such as Bewley’s? – Yours, etc,

KEVIN NOLAN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Dublin will not be the same. I can’t imagine visiting your city and not stopping there. This is a great disappointment. – Yours, etc,

JUDITH CONWAY,

Mashpee,

Massachusetts, US.

Sir, – It was with great sadness that I read that Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street is to close permanently with the loss of over 100 jobs. It would seem that a major reason for the closure is the continuing rent liability under a lease, the terms of which are more suited to the era of the “Celtic Tiger”.

The pandemic will have far-reaching and enduring economic impacts, one of which will be a reappraisal of the future need for expensive office and retail accommodation in city centres. If the vitality of the city centre is to be restored when the current crisis ends, then property developers, landlords and their financiers must accept this inevitable fact of post-pandemic life.

Crucial decisions are often poorly made during a time of crisis. It is important that assets which are of long-standing historic and cultural value are not sacrificed to satisfy the short term financial demands of developers. Those buildings, venues and landmarks that give Dublin its distinctiveness and which have been important in drawing tourism into Dublin over the ages will do so once again. It is vital that they are not now lost forever in the shortsighted pursuit of individual financial gain. – Yours, etc,

MARTIN WALSH,

Manchester, UK.