500 businesses sign petition to opt out of DublinTown scheme

Dublin Town CEO Richard Guiney and Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe at the launch of a waste disposal programme

Laura Larkin

MORE than 500 businesses have signed a petition seeking to leave DublinTown, the recently rebranded Dublin Business Improvement District (BID) company.

The organisation was set up in March 2008 under legislation with a mandate to promote Dublin city centre.

It also provides a range of services including Christmas lights around the city centre and street cleaning.

However, more than 500 of the organisation's 2,500 members want to see DublinTown changed to a voluntary scheme.

Businesses within the improvement district area are obliged to pay an annual fee to the group.

They pay 5pc of the value of their commercial rates and this is collected by the council on behalf of DublinTown.

Kate O'Neill, who owns the jewellery store Silver Trout on South King Street, is part of a group of independent business people who have been collecting signatures seeking an exit from the collective.

"Nobody wants to get rid of DublinTown, but we want to see it made voluntary so that those people who feel serviced can continue to pay," she said.

"We see no value for money. We already pay rates and they don't provide any services that the council doesn't already, as far as we're concerned."

Mary Costelloe, who co-owns the Costelloe and Costelloe fashion accessories store on Chatham Street, said many businesses feel they are seeing no benefits from their membership of the organisation.

"I think that they're focused on a bigger picture and are more used to dealing with big shops than smaller businesses," she said.

At last night's city council meeting, a motion was tabled by Independent councillor Mannix Flynn, who sits on the board, seeking a full review of the organisation's operations and their effectiveness.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) called on city councillors to support the motion.

Gerard Farrell, of DublinTown, said the review was unnecessary as the organisation publishes all relevant information, including end-of-year accounts, on its website.


"There's never going to be unanimous support, and that's why the BID legislation was set up because to improve an area it does require everyone to work together," he said.

In 2012 a ballot of members was held on whether DublinTown would be reinstated for a second five-year term, and passed by 1,063 votes to 511.

"We do have the majority of the support and that's been shown in the two votes we've had and our continued engagement with businesses," said Mr Farrell.