Tuesday 25 October 2016

Capital's once-fine boulevard has fallen on hard times

Published 18/04/2015 | 02:30

Soldiers clearing ice from Grafton Street, Dublin, in 1982
Soldiers clearing ice from Grafton Street, Dublin, in 1982

The news that Next, a British chain store, is to move out of Grafton Street is hardly earth-shattering, but was much reported on. But what has happened to that once-fine boulevard is the true tragedy.

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I have lived in London for 43 years and remember the "Bond Street of Dublin" circa 1970.

I recently had time to revisit and I could not believe it was the same street. Most of the lovely, upmarket retailers on the street have 'gone with the wind'.

There was Tyson's, a top men's outfitters that could hold its own with the best in London and Paris; Richard Allen, a ladies' wear shop; FX Kelly, a fine tailors; and Robert's cafe. There were several high-class grocers, a record shop, fine antique shops, long-established jewellers and silversmiths, and Newall's, a shop that specialised in fine clothes for children.

Brown Thomas has now moved across the street, and I was shocked to see its former premises has been turned into a Marks & Spencer.

Then there was the magnificent Switzer's. The old Brown Thomas epitomised graceful, old-fashioned, personal service, with the double doors keeping noise from the street out. Finally, there were the restaurants and cafés in these department stores with table cloths and silver service.

I really did shed a tear and wonder how could it happen - a once-attractive street has deteriorated and now some people are even forced to beg in its doorways.

If a city wants to keep its heritage, we all must strive to keep up standards.

B Carroll

Greenwich, London, UK


Meeting yourself on the way back

I was travelling south on the Dart from Clontarf to Bray last Wednesday, and it immediately became clear that the electronic list of stations and accompanying message on the tannoy were in fact intended for a train travelling in the opposite direction. For example, as we entered Pearse Station, we were advised that the next station was Raheny - and on it went.

At some point, the error was noticed and the correct stations began to 'catch up', so by the time we reached Bray we were advised that we were in Dún Laoghaire.

Still, as ever, I enjoyed my trip and indeed I had the unique experience of meeting myself on the way back.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9


In defence of conscience clause

Martina Devlin's characterisation of a conscience clause as a "prejudice clause" or "bigotry clause" (Irish Independent, April 16) is an unfortunate reminder that "liberalism" in the West is becoming an agency of misrepresentation and intolerance.

Distinguishing between relationships which are by their nature very different is not discrimination. In the case of 'same-sex marriage', the differences are so obvious that the claim that they are equal to heterosexual relationships is simply an ideological position that denies reality.

Every single person in the world is the product of heterosexuality, whereas homosexuality is by its very nature inimical to reproduction.

When an employer favours one job candidate over another because he or she is uniquely qualified through their abilities and experience to do the particular job, that is not discrimination, it is common sense.

Ms Devlin speaks of "not trampling over the rights of others". Perhaps she might reconsider whether labelling people as bigots and criminalising and imprisoning them for their sincerely held convictions concerning the exclusivity of traditional marriage, as taught by Christ, might be an example of this.

A Council of Europe report entitled 'Tackling Intolerance and Discrimination in Europe' highlights the discrimination experienced by Christians in Europe and the failure of states to defend fundamental rights of conscience and freedom of expression and religion. Regarding issues like same-sex marriage, it encourages states to provide reasonable accommodation for conscientious objections. It also recommends that states "encourage the media to avoid negative stereotyping and communicating prejudices against Christians, in the same way as for any other group".

The Irish media definitely has something to learn from this. A more mature, balanced and reflective approach to the debate would help readers make a better, informed decision on the issue.

Ian Kennedy

Tramore, Co Waterford


Irish Water's string of mistakes

I have just received my capped water bill for €64.10 and promptly paid it - albeit reluctantly.

The Government believes that by capping bills until 2018, it will not lose any votes, but it is wrong - 2018 will come around very quickly. If the bills were not capped, my bill for the first quarter would have been €225.76.

Reluctantly, I will pay the €64.10 each quarter, but I certainly won't be paying the uncapped bills from 2018, which, at current rates, would amount to €903.04.

Moreover, along with my bill came a booklet comprising 28 pages in Irish and 28 pages in English. Given the fact that most households will bin this publication without even looking at it, can the Irish-language version at least not be made available upon request only? This waste of paper and money is an absolute disgrace.

The hapless firm calling itself Irish Water couldn't even proofread its booklet correctly, so it had to waste even more taxpayers' money enclosing an insert indicating that its IBAN number on page 18 was incorrect!

Another mistake by an outfit which itself has been one giant mistake from day one.

David Bradley

Drogheda, Co Louth


Louth's forgotten treasures

Come and visit Louth. As the smallest county, we can't believe we were totally wiped off the map at this week's launch of the east coast's new tourism route. It should have started in Carlingford, with so much to see en route to Drogheda.

Ian Armstrong

Drogheda, Co Louth


McWilliams knows his stuff

Brian Kelly speaks rather disparagingly about David McWilliams (Letters, Irish Independent, April 16).

When we were in the middle of our Celtic Tiger experience, when our Government was borrowing and spending as though money was going out of style, when we believed that the only way was up, and when those who counselled caution were shunned, it was David McWilliams who pointed out that economics was a cyclical business - that it consisted, historically, of rises and falls.

Mr McWilliams predicted that there would be a collapse in the price of housing. He said he foresaw a day when 2006/07 prices would fall by 50pc to 60pc. It happened.

So perhaps Mr Kelly might be a little less glib when questioning the credentials of a man like Mr McWilliams.

Colm McElroy

Santry, Dublin 9

Irish Independent

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