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Sunday 21 September 2014

Feisty coffee shop owner scuttles Dail cafe plan

John Drennan, Political Editor

Published 13/04/2014 | 02:30

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BLISTERING MISSIVE Carole Treacy, owner of the Petit Cafe, across the road from the Dail, said she did not have the luxury of calling on taxpayers’ funds. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A plucky coffee shop owner has helped to scuttle plans to spend more taxpayers' money on developing a gourmet, barista-style cafe in Leinster House.

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The proposals by Dail bureaucrats to spend another €70,000 on converting a controversial Dail shop, which cost €1.3m to build, are set to be abandoned.

The shop opened in 2008, replacing a previous shop built in 1994, and was subsequently branded the "dearest little shop in town", with its 40sq m (431sq ft) total area ultimately costing €1,280,867.

Located just inside the gates of Leinster House, the shop closed after its operators, Rehab, failed to make any money from the venture and accumulated losses of over €23,000 in the first six months of last year.

In a rare display of people power, a major factor in the turning of the tide against pouring another €70,000 into the project was a blistering missive from Carole Treacy, proprietor of the Petit Cafe, which is located across the road from the Dail.

In a letter sent to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and other Oireachtas members, Ms Treacy said she was writing in her capacity as the owner of "a small, independent coffee shop" operating opposite Leinster House on Kildare Street, "which has survived the worst recession since 1929''.

The feisty shop owner claimed it was "extraordinarily unfair and unbalanced" that she would now be expected to compete with a shop that had "access to taxpayers' money of up to €70,000" to fund the renovation.

Ms Treacy said she and other traders did not have the luxury of calling on taxpayers' money in the form of funds from the Office of Public Works. Ms Treacy added that it surely wasn't the "the job of the Oireachtas to go into competition with SMEs in the area'' .

The coffee-shop owner suggested a far better use of the building might be as "a media interview area, or waiting room for tours''.

Significantly, in the wake of Ms Treacy's complaint the Leinster House apparatchik classes are believed to be preparing for a swift retreat.

The proposals are due to be discussed next week by the body which runs Leinster House, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

Sunday Independent

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