Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tonight ruled out Government intervention to save Bewley’s flagship Dublin cafes, which closed today.
Hundreds of customers queued all day to dine one last time in the oriental-designed cafes on Grafton Street and Westmoreland Street.
Mr Ahern told the Dáil tonight it was a sad day for Bewley’s 234 hardworking staff.
He said: “It’s a Dublin institution. Despite the best efforts of staff it’s not viable in the way it is.
“It is sad in a day when there is a lot of consumer spending that it hasn’t been able to survive and we certainly regret that.”
Mr Ahern said he could not back a suggestion by Green Party leader Trevor Sargent that the Government should step in to rescue Bewleys.
He said: “It’s nothing the Government could seriously support. My thoughts are with the staff members today.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Michael Conaghan, who led a campaign to save Bewley’s, is seeking a change in planning laws to protect premises like Bewley’s from high rents.
Mr Conaghan will be tabling a motion at Dublin City Council next week to reform the “unregulated rental regime” in the capital and to restrict the future business use of premises like Bewley’s.
The Labour representative said: “Other cities like Glasgow, London, Vienna and Porto have managed to retain heritage while maintaining commercial viability so why can’t we?”
The Save Bewley’s Campaign – which collected 15,000 signatures – held a number of events outside the Grafton Street branch today.