On Meath Street: Tempestuous conversations, bold statements and appetite for change 

As the Dáil returns from a three-month break, a plethora of issues remain unresolved. From a scandalous summer of secret pay deals, intense protests and increased inflation, the new autumn term for TDs at Leinster House will undoubtedly be a strenuous one to plough through.

On one of Dublin’s oldest and vibrant trading streets, residents and shoppers had mixed emotions about how the summer of political turmoil was handled. The cost of living, crime and housing were just a number of crises up for discussion.

A queue of cars parked outside shopfronts on Meath Street. Photo: Jason Quigley

The cost of electricity and gas is clearly having a visible impact on Meath Street, as stall traders have no option but to close up early. Publicans have regrettably increased their prices and some businesses now ask customers to pay with cash to reduce energy used from Wi-Fi and card machines.

The pinch is squeezing viciously and is leaving a once vibrant street, now bruised, and wounded.

Brenda McCoy, 65, has seen a great deal of change on Meath Street – but now she can’t comprehend the change. Speaking with an impudent smile, she said, “I’ve been walking these pavements on this street for many years now, and unfortunately all I’ve seen are the numbers on the price tags doubled.”

“Is there no wonder that so many people are now moving away from the local street markets. I’m going to cheaper supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl,” she continued.

“I’ve really noticed it over the last three years and it’s a sad thing to see when someone’s favourite market is now being boarded up, shop by shop. What you really need around here are the politicians coming down speaking to the locals and shop owners, so they can understand the struggles that they all have to face during this cost-of-living crisis.”

C&N Meats butcher shop forced to increase food prices due to inflation. Photo: Jason Quigley

College student David Fallon said a “wind of political change is coming”.

“It’s sad to see that the street is becoming increasingly lifeless. I’m only living a few hundred metres away in the student accommodation hub and unfortunately there is nothing really here for me on the street that would draw me in,” Fallon said.

“However, I do believe that politicians, especially those in government right now need to save our streets – like Moore Street and Meath Street – before it’s too late. The cost of living is forcing me to shop in supersaver supermarkets,” he said.

“Many people my age have no hope of owning their own home in this country let alone rent so that’s why I think that most people my age come the next general election will vote for something different. They will vote for that much needed shakeup,” he added.

Liberty Market closed on a Monday morning surrounded by closed up businesses in the area. Photo: Jason Quigley

Mother of four Maeve O’Dwyer said her daughter is trying to buy her first home with her new husband.

“The stress that I can see from her on a daily basis is just devastating and I put the blame on this Government. I would never vote for this Government again. They have made false promises and are not achieving their targets, especially on housing,” O’Dwyer said.

A once strong supporter of Fine Gael, O’Dwyer said she will be ticking for a left-wing party come polling day.

“I’ve voted Fine Gael all my life, but their actions over the last few years have really changed my perspective on the party. Speaking to people here on the street, there is a profound sense of anger with how our country is run, and that political change and appetite, whether that be in Sinn Féin, or any other left party is on its way.”

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