Dublin upset at new sex store

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The Independent Online
DUBLIN TRADERS have attacked plans to open a sex "superstore" opposite one of Ireland's most emotive historic sites. They claim that placing an Ann Summers shop in O'Connell Street will rob it of its dignity.

The Ann Summers chain plans to open its first outlet in the Irish Republic on a 5,000 sq ft site directly opposite the General Post Office, the centre of the 1916 rising and one of Dublin's prime tourist attractions. Conversion of site is reportedly due to start on Monday. It will be the group's largest store after its Charing Cross Road outlet in London.

The plan has re-ignited the simmering row over the decline of Dublin's once-grand main street, where garish fast-food shops have gradually taken over from traditional restaurants. Open heroin dealing and street crime there prompted a public and media outcry two years ago, which led to 24-hour CCTV monitoring by the Garda.

Tom Coffey, chief executive of Dublin City Centre Traders' Association, said the planned sex shop was "inappropriate" for the location. "The issue here is that O'Connell Street is the main street of our capital city. We hold the St Patrick's Day parade in it. It is the image [abroad] for the country."

He said his members had agreed to plough pounds 300m into O'Connell Street "if the street was brought up to the same standards as the Champs-Elysee".

He said the street's bus routes meant large numbers of passengers, including children, passed through it daily. He said the sex shop would be more suited to a different street, and that for a British company to suggest such a site showed "a lack of sensitivity".

For Irish republicans, who centre demonstrations around the GPO, and Irish-American tourists who converge on it when rediscovering their roots, the sex superstore may be akin to a massage parlour opposite Buckingham Palace.