Top street will open up to charity shops
The controversy over locating charity shops on Dublin's Grafton Street ended when councillors voted to drop a plan that would have banned them from the city's most up-market street.
The proposed ban was included in new planning controls to prohibit outlets including sex shops, fast-food restaurants, hairdressers, off-licences, arcades, bookmakers and charity shops which it was claimed would "detract from the character of the street".
But an amendment to the plan, proposed by Labour councillor Dermot Lacey and seconded by Fianna Fail councillor Mary Fitzpatrick, removed charity shops from the list.
"This is very good news for the people of Dublin and the charities they support. The decision recognises the contribution charity shops like Oxfam make and their role in connecting people here with other communities around the world," Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken told the Sunday Independent.
Charity shops now play a crucial role in fundraising. Oxfam now has more than 600,000 customers a year who make a €2m contribution to the charity's overall income.
The best estimate of the value of all the Irish charity shops to good causes could be higher than €35m, according to Paul Hughes of the Irish Charity Shops Association. "It's very hard to put a total figure on it but it is clear that charity shops have become an increasingly important element in fundraising."
Recent research shows that donating to a charity shop is now one of the most popular ways to support a charity.
Oxfam has 51 shops across Ireland and a team of 1,000 volunteers help 70 full- and part-time staff members.
"Donations have fallen by as much as 50 per cent in some shops – due to the recession which means people are buying fewer items in the first place, and also the rise of commercial secondhand clothes dealers," said Clarken.
The Irish Charity Shops Association has 320 shops registered around the country.