DUNDALK Town Council are planning to clamp down on local producers in the Market Square in Dundalk in a move that has angered local traders.
Since the redevelopment of the new square last year, traders were invited to breath energy and life back into the town centre, while at the same time giving consumers access to locally produced, fresh produce.
In the last year a number of stalls have sprung up on Friday mornings and have proved popular with passersby and the people of Dundalk.
Yet on Friday morning a member of the DTC executive, flanked on either side by uniformed staff, informed traders of their intention to regularise the trade on the square.
The official also berated several of the traders for having trailers and parking cars on the square.
Historically there have been laws that allow for trading by local producers on given days, but it appears that it is this practice that the Dundalk Town Council want to bring to an end.
John McVitty, has been trading at the square for the last seven years in one form or another and he says that he is willing to work with the council to find some kind of compromise.
“Personally I could understand if they want us to make some kind of contribution, but what I object to is them turning us into what is termed as “casual traders” when in fact we are producers.
“That’s not to say there is anything wrong with casual traders, but is a term that does not apply to us,” says John, who sells local produce on his stall.
“For me this market has always been a special place for me, as when I was caring for my mother it was my one day out of the house. I would have to question what the real objective of this is. We had meetings where we were asked would we play a part in bringing life back into town. It’s no secret that people are increasingly moving away from town centres to shop in out of town shopping centres. Now after being asked to help in rebuilding the town centre, we are being told that we have a whole new set of rules to abide by.”
Mr McVitty also says that the manner in which the official went about addressing them was unnecessary. “It seemed to me like he was his displaying his authority.”
Andrew Smith, who has been traders at the square for a year with his stall, “Kyo Sushi” told the paper: “It’s clear that they want more control of the traders here. Currently we are not paying them anything. The question is what is the motive behind this move.”
Another trader, a vegetable grower from Armagh, Gregory McSorley told the paper that it was his third week on the square.
“I was told this morning that my trailer which I bring my vegetables, fresh from the field, is not appropriate. It’s baffling, as you couldn’t get fresher vegetable than this and I have all the relevant Health and Safety certificates.
“I have never experienced any of this in any other market which I have traded at. People have been very friendly here and there has been support from local people who are happy to see our produce here. We were asked to come here as it was felt that the market needed fresh vegetables.”
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat, Dave Story of DTC told the paper: “Of course we want a market there and to attract more people into the town centre. At the moment people are turning up adhoc and in some cases parking on square, which we agreed wouldn’t happen.
“We just won’t to regularise what is going on and not to let it turn into a free-for-all.”