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Video: Lament echoes in empty Temple Bar streets to mark one year since pubs closed

World renowned fiddler Frankie Gavin performs a lament marking exactly one year to the day that Dublin's Temple Bar Area closed down. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Michelle Devane, PA

World-renowned fiddler Frankie Gavin has performed a lament in Temple Bar to mark one year since the pubs were forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Gavin was joined by piper Louise Mulcahy on the empty cobbled streets of the cultural quarter, ahead of St Patrick’s Day, to highlight the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The pubs, cafes, shops and streets of the cultural quarter would normally be packed with tourists in the run up to St Patrick’s Day.

The Temple Bar Company has called for a recovery taskforce to be set up for Dublin city centre, warning that Temple Bar cannot survive “online” for another 12 months.

Businesses in the 28-acre area closed their doors on March 15 last year for what was originally envisioned would be just three weeks.

Twelve months later Dublin's cultural quarter remains firmly shut.

More than 2,600 people linked to Temple Bar are out of work as a result of the pandemic, including hundreds of musicians.

It is estimated more than €200 million has been lost in trade in the area and that €1 million per week has been lost to the Exchequer as a result of Temple Bar’s closure.

Before the pandemic more than 64,000 people walked its cobbled streets on a daily basis, about 23 million people a year.

Martin Harte, chief executive of the Temple Bar Company, said businesses need assistance so they can face the “inevitable difficulties” that will arise whenever they reopen their doors.

“We need a plan as to how the city will reopen, not a press release telling us when,” he said.

“This plan must be adequately funded and proactively deal with the reality of city life in a post-Covid era.

“Money must be ring-fenced to be spent in the city centre, otherwise Dublin city centre faces ruin, we have all seen what happens when city centres fail, notably Detroit.

”There is no point waiting until June then issuing a press release saying the city is open. Solutions need to be in place for when the city opens.”

Mr Harte said funds were needed to ensure businesses can reopen safely once public health restrictions are lifted.

The Temple Bar Company is calling on the government to extend the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme for qualifying city centre businesses for 12 months from the date of reopening.

The business association also wants businesses whose turnover is down 30% or more included in the Rates Waiver scheme and that the waiver should be extended until mid-2022.

They are also seeking funding for small, managed outdoor cultural events across the city entre, from outdoor movies to markets, to make the city attractive to families again.

Coherent, well-designed street furniture for each of the city quarters are needed also, “not a mish-mash” of patio furniture and greenhouses installed on the streets following the first lockdown, the organisation says.

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