Dublin butcher Stephen Troy joined High Noon to discuss the "negligent disruption" his family business has suffered...
"The Empire State Building was done in 18 months. It's incredible."
So sighed Stephen Troy on today's High Noon, as he explained how his Dublin city centre business has been negatively impacted in the four long years since the Luas Cross City construction works got underway in June 2013.
The owner of Troy's Butchers, which has been run by his family on Moore Street for over a century, accused contractors of causing "negligent disruption" not only to his trade, but to a rake of shops that have become isolated behind hoardings and railings to the point of being "on their knees" financially.
"It's the whole north side of the city," he said. "It's totally inaccessible."
Of the contractors, he claimed:
"Some midweek days they're not there either and the hoarding remains up blocking the businesses. They don't have the expertise to manage the project...
"They're milking the project. They're employed. They're getting paid week in, week out. They don't have to worry the way the business owners [do]."
Outlining the effect the disruption has had on his own trade, Troy said:
"We've seen as the work's progressed, the business has decreased. I've lost a couple of staff members over the years and the figures are down 35-40%. I'm now a seven day a week business.
"I open Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, and I also open an hour later in the evening to try and pick up business that way and counteract the works.
"The hoarding has progressed from Upper Dominick Street down onto Lower Dominick Street, up as far as Constitution Hill, down onto Parliament Street, around onto O'Connell Street. They've created an island for the businesses that's almost impossible to get [to].
"It means customers would have to walk a couple of hundred yards up the street to get to a pedestrian crossing, and then walk back. People won't do it."
Having set up the Dublin 1 Business Alliance, Troy was "relieved" to discover that his butchers wasn't the only retailer struggling to cope:
"Some members of the alliance have actually closed and they've relocated to other areas. And since relocating, their businesses are back thriving.
"Everybody's reporting the same thing: a huge downturn in figures, some businesses are operating at a loss, a lot of them have lost staff. It's making it impossible to trade."
"They could have done this project inch-by-inch and completed it inch-by-inch," he argued. "Rather than digging up the whole city as one."
It's the protracted nature of the construction that is causing the pain, with Troy claiming that businesses were not consulted on the work prior to its commencement and that he was unaware how long it would last – the four-year period has felt like an incredibly long time.
"Particularly for some of the businesses in the alliance that are trading at a loss. There's only so much you can invest into a business before you don't have any money left to invest... There's already businesses who couldn't survive these works."
"Over 100 years, we've seen recessions and we've gotten through them," he concluded. "Figures had steadied after the recession. I just cannot believe how badly [the works have] impacted us."