Belfast Telegraph

Traders want protesters to leave

A group of businesses have launched a campaign to get rid of Occupy Dame Street protesters who have been camped outside the Central Bank for four months.

Frank McQuade, who owns three clothes shops on Fownes Street in Dublin's Temple Bar next to the encampment, has rallied neighbouring shops against the movement, which he claims is driving customers away. He claims the Occupy movement is risking up to 50 jobs.

"They're no more than a bunch of scruffy people sitting on crates," Mr McQuade claimed.

The businessman - a spokesman for 13 Fownes Street Residents and Traders' Association members - has sent a letter to the Central Bank, calling for protesters to be removed.

Occupy Dame Street supporters set up camp in November in protest against what they describe as financial greed, corruption and the Government's forced austerity on Ireland. The protesters also opposed Government plans to pay 6.3 billion euro to unsecured bondholders in a bid to wipe the debts of the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank.

As the Government prepares to hand over the next instalment of taxpayers' money to cover the nationalised bank's debts on Wednesday, the movement has stepped up its protest with a non-violent civil disobedience blockade at the former Anglo's St Stephen's Green headquarters.

But Mr McQuade said organisers should focus on tidying up their Dame Street camp, which consists of a handful of wooden huts covered with painted anti-Government placards.

"I've no problem with people protesting but it's the nature and the sloppiness of it, the dirt and the filth and the rubbish of it," he said. "Business has been horrendous for the last three years. I have been here for 25 years and this is the worst year so far. Fifty people stand to lose their jobs if these businesses go under."

But Occupy Dame Street spokesman Steven Bennett said the protesters have bent over backwards to address the shopowners' concerns. He said: "We have met with them. They had some complaints and we tried to be accommodating.

"We had a big Indian type hut that they said was blocking the view of their shops from Dame Street. So we got rid of that. We pulled the encampment in and we've done our best to keep people happy. But we don't think we are affecting people entering their shops."

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