Opera house construction ruined my business - Bridin
Wexford beauty salon proprietor Brídín O'Callaghan told the District Court how her business was all but destroyed by the building of the National Opera House.
Ms. O'Callaghan was the target of proceedings taken by Wexford County Council in pursuit of more than €17,000 in unpaid commercial rates due from the salon in High Street.
Ms O'Callaghan dispensed with the services of solicitor Ian Ryan to take to the witness box and tell the story of her experience during the 2006 to 2008 construction period.
She told how High Street was closed, along with the nearby car park, which was given over to heavy machinery deployed by contractors Cleary and Doyle.
She spoke of the noise, dirt and disturbance involved at the time as 'unreal', noting that one family living near her premises moved out because of structural damage to their home.
She spoke of the road being affected by the presence of machines on the street which took up the width of the road relentlessly for a period of around two years.
She pointed out that most of her clients came from country areas and reported that she lost many of them permanently as a result of the disruption to access,.
In 2009, a year after the opening of the opera house, she was then dealt a rise in annual rates from €750 to €3,000, which she claimed she could not pay because of the negative effects on the business and also the recession.
She claimed that she was emotionally bruised at the time and accepted that she did not appeal the rise in rates, worried that such a move would cost her more money.
She noted that the opera house received €30 million from the tax payer: 'And what did I get only grief.'
Ms O'Callaghan stressed that she was pro-business and pro-Wexford but felt that a write-off of rates would have been appropriate.
She said that she could not possible afford the higher rate after her business fell apart because of the construction work.
Judge Gerard Haughton said he had a lot of sympathy with the owner of Brídín's Health & Beauty but added that the court applied the law rather than sympathy.
He granted the county council the decree sought for €17,049, though he declined the local authority's application for legal costs.