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, spokesman for 13 Fownes Street Residents and Traders’ Association members – has sent a letter to the Central Bank, calling for protesters to be removed.
A spokesperson for the Central Bank on Dame Street refused to comment on the issue.
Occupy Dame Street set up camp in November in protest against what they describe as financial greed, corruption and the Government’s forced austerity.
It has also opposed Government plans to pay €6.3bn 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,” he said, "the dirt and the filth and the rubbish of it. They have bales and pallets and rubbish and broken bits of doors and wardrobes and all kinds of shit, and the way it grew organically.
“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.
“We have met with them. They had some complaints and we tried to be accommodating,” Mr Bennett said.
“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.”
Mr Bennett added that he does not want to fall out with the shopkeepers.
“It’s the Troika, the Government and the banking system they should be fighting, not us. They will do more damage to their businesses than we will,” he added.
Some shops and businesses on Dame Street have supported the movement, providing protesters with water, food and internet access. Sweeney’s Pub hosted a Christmas party organised by the movement.
Occupy Dame Street will stage a blockade outside Anglo today, tomorrow and Wednesday.