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'There's no such thing as the Grafton Quarter': Councillors hit out at this year's Christmas lights

Attempts to re-name or re-brand parts of Dublin City have come in for criticism in recent years.

LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES IN Dublin have criticised Grafton Street’s new Christmas lights after the street’s old festive ‘Nollaig Shona Duit’ light was replaced with a sign welcoming shoppers to the ‘Grafton Quarter’ for the festive season. 

Light were switched on last night and people have since taken to Twitter to express their opinion about the apparent “re-brand” of the shopping street. 

The new Christmas sign was selected and erected by Dublin Business Improvement District (BID) – a business improvement organisation funded by a business rates levy and marketed as DublinTown – which has defended its decision. 

A spokesperson for DublinTown told TheJournal.ie that businesses around the area are in favour of the “Grafton Quarter” Christmas lights and noted that in 2014 Dublin City Council published a report titled ‘Grafton Street Quarter’ ahead of public realm improvements. 

Tweet by @The Grafton Quarter Source: The Grafton Quarter/Twitter

Local representatives, however, have criticised DublinTown over a lack of consultation. 

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn told TheJournal.ie that Grafton Street is at risk of being “re-branded” by DublinTown , adding that members of Dublin City Council were not consulted regarding this year’s Christmas lights. 

“It’s artificial branding. There’s absolutely no need for it,” Flynn said. “This kind of branding is tacky, over-commercialisation”. 

Flynn said there were similar questions last year about re-naming Dublin’s Henry Street area at Christmas time as ‘Dublin One’.

In recent years, attempts to re-name or re-brand parts of Dublin City have come in for criticism. 

In 2006, Dublin City Council revealed a €2.6 billion plan for Dublin’s Liberties – a cultural and commercial quarter set to be re-branded SoHo or ‘South of Heuston Street’. 

In 2016, a marketing campaign, website and social-media profiles were launched, coining a new moniker for Dublin’s South Inner City – “SOBO” or South of Beckett O’Casey. 

Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan said that businesses paying rates on Grafton Street want to bring people into the area but that DublinTown “should re-think its branding strategy”. 

“You don’t need to put in lights that it’s ‘The Grafton Quarter’ because it’s not,” said Moynihan. “It’s well-known to Dubliners as Grafton Street. There’s no such thing as ‘Grafton Quarter’. 

“I think it turns people off…and it’s a waste of money. Do the [Christmas] lights well but don’t ruin the Grafton Street Christmas lights,” Moynihan said. “It’s marketing without listening to people. It’s inauthentic.”

DublinTown said that – unlike previous years – there is no official “switching-on” ceremony this year for Dublin’s Christmas lights. “DublinTown will just turn on the lights and people can come and enjoy them,” it said in a statement. 

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Last year, Dublin City Council was accused of being “Scrooge-like” for not holding a Christmas lights ceremony in Dublin. The previous year, however, was marred by overcrowding and issues of crowd safety. 

In 2016, Dublin’s Christmas lights ceremony on Grafton Street was described as “mayhem” due to overcrowding and organisational issues. 

In a statement, Dublin Town said: “It is a testament to the popularity of Dublin at Christmas, that more people than the streets can accommodate want to come see the moment the Christmas lights come on.”

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