By Emily Hull
An opinion piece on tourism, written by Ita O’Kelly, was featured on the independent.ie‘s website on November 17th.
Entitled “Tourists: Please Pack Up Your Wheelie Cases and Go Home – I Want My City Back”, the opinion piece has made a stir amongst the people of Dublin.
Social media was home to the bulk of the conversation surrounding the article – with some Dubliners agreeing with O’Kelly, and others believing that she is alone in her views.
We spoke to Dubliners across the city to get their reactions to the article.
Barry Morton from Rathfarnham, but who works in the city centre, commented: “The city is losing its charm. Grafton Street is choked up with tourists listening to poor covers of Ed Sheeran. It’s impossible to get around town.”
Others thought differently. “I think this article is churlish and petty, and it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the majority of Dublin,” said Will Bailey and Tom Parry, two Trinity students.
Daire Kelly, a resident of Killester, said: “The writer isn’t necessarily wrong, the number of tourists is ridiculous and they are severely hampering travel around the city. As a country that travels worldwide so much, it would be hypocritical to shut out tourists.”
Aisling Dunne, a primary school teacher from Clontarf, empathised with some of what O’Kelly wrote. “She makes a point that you can’t go through the city centre with much speed as you’ll be blocked by a tourist stopping to take a picture or walking painfully slowly. This is a pet hate of mine!” she said. “I do, however, love to see the hustle and bustle of the city. I agree that there are too many coffee shops, one every few metres as you walk down the city centre streets. However, I don’t agree that that’s solely due to tourists. The Irish themselves – myself included – are becoming more Americanised and with that comes more coffee. The business of everyday life and working life in Ireland, and the ‘go-go-go’ attitude fuels this ‘need’ for an energy boost.”
However, Aisling sees the benefits of having a city so attractive to tourists. “Having worked in the bar industry for five years, I met tourists on a daily basis. To most this sounds like a nightmare, but I loved it. I was always fascinated to hear how or why people chose to come to Ireland for a visit, and in turn I found out a lot about so many other cultures,” she said.
O’Kelly made a striking point about tourists being the cause of Dublin’s homelessness problem, a point which Aisling rejects: “The problem with homelessness is bad in Dublin, I agree. More needs to be done about it. But stopping tourists coming here won’t fix that problem. A change in the attitudes and mindset of the ‘people in power’ towards the problem of homelessness will!”