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Councillors vote NOT to ban charity shops on Grafton St

Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick tabled a motion to remove the ban from a draft plan for the city centre street this evening.

The Oxfam shop on South King Street, just off Grafton St
The Oxfam shop on South King Street, just off Grafton St
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

CHARITY SHOPS WILL not be banned on Grafton St in Dublin’s city centre, after the intervention of a councillor who said the shops offer an alternative to customers.

At a meeting of Dublin City Council tonight, Fianna Fáil Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick put forward a motion calling for the removal of a specific ban on charity shops in the area, from a draft plan for the hugely popular retail destination.

The Grafton Street and Environs draft planning scheme was up for discussion among the 52 councillors at the Dublin City Council meeting this evening.

Cllr Fitzpatrick said that 29 voted for the motion on the removal of the ban, while 16 voted against it.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “We are pleased that the motion was passed, and appreciate the support from the independent, Sinn Féin and Labour councillors who supported the motion.”

She said they believe the scheme for Grafton St is a good scheme, and also believe that the removal of the ban on charity shops is welcome for the city.

“Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said:

This is very good news for the ordinary people of Dublin and the charities they support. The decision recognises the contribution charity shops make and their role in connecting Dubliners with other communities around the world”.

Snobbery

The proposal, which is contained in a draft report that said planning permission should not be granted for charity shops because they would “detract from the character of the street”, was dismissed as “snobbery” yesterday.

Fundraising Ireland and the Irish Charity Shops Association said DCC was trying to put charity shops on a par with sex shops, bookmakers and amusement arcades, and that the decision was based on snobbery rather than retailing facts.

Oxfam Ireland – which has had a presence on South King Street since 1974 when a building was bequeathed to the organisation in a will” – said the proposal was based on an “outdated” view of charity shops.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in advance of the vote, Cllr Fitzpatrick had said that the plan would have meant that charity shops would not have been able to operate on Grafton St or in its environs. She said this is included within a list of activities that the DCC proposes to ban as part of the plan.

“I would be hopeful though they will support the motion,” she had said of her colleagues on the council. She described the ban as “an unnecessary negative discrimination on charitable organisations”.

Cllr Fitzgerald added that to her mind, Grafton St as a retail experience suffers from having a number of empty units and that there is only a small number of unique independent traders there.

She said the street had been taken over by high street brands, and that although they do have place in the market, many of them are shops and retailers that can be found on any high street in any city in the world.

Cllr Fitzpatrick said she believes that charity shops offer retailers and consumers the option for a retail experience “that is ethical, environmentally friendly, [and] an alternative”.

She added there is a “generous tradition” of Irish people being known for our generosity both at home and abroad and for our support for charitable organisations.

Cllr Fitzpatrick had earlier said that as long as charity shops comply with the planning standards being required of other retailers on Grafton Street, they should not be subjected to negative discrimination.

Read: Council to vote on whether to ban charity shops from Grafton Street>

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