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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 24 May, 2018
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'The whole street is dying' - Moore Street traders feel they're being wiped out

Marie Cullen has been working beneath scaffolding on Moore Street for the past year.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

MARIE CULLEN IS a third generation Moore Street trader.

For over 20 years she’s sold fruit and veg from her stall in the heart of inner city Dublin to anyone who came by.

In that time she’s watched her street change as the years passed and many of the traders packed up their stalls and left the area.

For decades, making a living has been hard work for the Moore Street traders. A proposed regeneration and development of the area has been stalled for many years.

Anti-social behaviour – including public drinking and drug taking and selling illegal tobacco – is also rife on Moore Street and the surrounding laneways.

Add to this the fact that there are no dedicated public toilets for the traders, no street lights for them to operate under on dark nights, and big name supermarket brands operating very close by.

IMG_20170119_120304 Planning on Moore Street has a long and complex history Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

For Marie, trading has always been a family affair. Her husband Tom Holbrook is at the stall with her every day. Her children help out regularly, selling fruit and veg and helping stock up the stall. However, she doesn’t believe they’ll continue the family work line when she retires.

So, life has never been easy working on Moore Street; but for the past year, Marie says, it has been almost impossible.

Every day for over 12 months a black mass of scaffolding has loomed large behind Marie, pushing her out onto the street. She has about 4ft to work on and is regularly knocked into and has her feet rolled over by trolleys and buggies.

Standing behind the scaffolding is one of Ireland’s designated National Monuments: Nos 14-17 Moore Street. These are the buildings from which the Irish rebels led by Padraig Pearse surrendered in Easter 1916.

IMG_20170119_115740 The scaffolding looming up behind Marie's stall and others. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“All day there are people pushing by and trying to squeeze past, it’s a nightmare,” Marie tells TheJournal.ie this week.

Over a year now it’s been like this and there’s absolutely nothing being done.

To make matters worse, construction recently started on extending the shop fronts on the exterior of the ILAC Shopping Centre across the street.

Planning permission was granted in November 2015 for works to be carried out in order to upgrade the shop facades on the exterior of the centre facing onto Moore Street.

The work is being done to modernise and upgrade the storefront to make way for new higher-end retail units and cafes.

Marie recognises that the work has to be done, but after a year of trying to sell her goods in front of scaffolding on one side of the street, she feels completely boxed in.

“There’s no space when we’re setting up in the morning and there’s non-stop drilling all day,” she says.

We’re finding it very, very hard.

IMG_20170119_120201 The scaffolding on the storefronts outside the ILAC Centre. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

Works

The scaffolding behind Marie first went up last January in order to convert the run down buildings of the National Monument into a commemoration centre in time for the Easter Rising centenary celebrations in March.

The Monument – much like Moore Street – has been at the centre of a protracted and hard-fought dispute between Dublin City Council and the national government on one side, and activists under the common banner of Save Moore Street on the other (many of them relatives of those who fought in 1916).

The proposed works were going to interfere with other buildings on Moore Street, which the government has long-argued aren’t historically important. However Save Moore Street activists dispute this, and last year fought to put a halt to the construction.

They took a court order against the works and in March they scored a huge victory when the High Court ruled that the entire of Moore Street was to be designated a historical battlefield site.

download (1) Protesters occupying the buildings in Moore Street in January. Source: RollingNews.ie

As a result the Government is not permitted to interfere with the buildings. Officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have appealed the High Court decision, with the case due to be heard in December of this year.

The scaffolding remains 

TheJournal.ie first spoke to Marie in July last year. She was angry and frustrated then, and felt that the Moore Street traders had been forgotten about in the the debate over the future of the area.

Despite the High Court decision on March, the scaffolding had stayed standing behind her. The Government had been granted permission by the High Court to carry out important repair work on the buildings.

download (2) The scaffolding in July. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“I’m losing money everyday while nothing is being done,” she said at the time.

We spoke to her again before Christmas, when the streets thronged with shoppers and the dark conditions were making it very hard to work.

The scaffolding still hadn’t budged and Marie said that her business was down by about 50% in the 11 months since in had gone up.

“You just feel like no one cares one bit about us – and that’s just it,” she said.

marie M When we spoke to Marie in December she said she was at her wits' end. Source: TheJournal.ie

When we speak the Marie this week, the construction across the road has exacerbated her frustration and worries.

She says she’s been told that that will continue for about four months. Meanwhile, the scaffolding remains towering behind her, with no sign of it being completed.

A spokesperson for the Heritage Department told TheJournal.ie in December that the remedial works had to do with fixing the roofs of the buildings and were due to be completed by this month.

Marie says that she’s been told it will be mid-February by the time the scaffolding comes down. She says the traders understand the need for the works and the regeneration of the street.

“But we’ve been told different things by different people the whole time,” she says. “It just gets to the point that you can’t trust anyone anymore.”

The whole street is dying and we’re all struggling.

As she speaks, the drilling across the road continues unabated, drowning out her voice.

Read: “I’m losing money every day while nothing is being done… it’s a nightmare” – How Moore Street’s traders have been forgotten about

Read: ‘You just feel like no one cares one bit about us’ – Moore Street traders working in the shadows of history

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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