The crumbling public realm in Cork city centre – a tragedy waiting to happen.

Yesterday morning in Cork city centre a part of the facade of the Queens Old Castle building, which houses the discount shop Dealz, collapsed onto the busy footpath below injuring two people.

This is not an isolated incident in Cork, as the crumbling nature of many city centre buildings becomes ever more apparent and dangerous to the public. Last September the frontage of the Moderne clothes shop on Patrick Street fell onto the footpath injuring a woman passing by. Back in the early Spring a part of a building on Washington Street fell away, and nine families had to be evacuated as a wall behind their homes collapsed in the Shandon area. 

This is on top of widespread dereliction in the heart of the city centre, along main commercial thoroughfares and in residential districts of the inner city.

The IRSP can see the clear reasons for the rapid deterioration of the public realm in Cork City, and firmly point the figure of blame at Cork City Council for their own dereliction of duty in regards to maintaining the safety and aesthetic standards to which a city the stature of Cork likes to hold itself. 

Cork City Council top brass and establishment party representatives readily tell citizens of budget constraints and the lack of capital funds, that there just isn’t enough money to adequately maintain the public realm. Meanwhile, weeds overgrow many city centre streets, derelict homes and buildings crumble and fall, and sections of main city centre thoroughfares such as North Main Street, Patrick Street, Shandon Street and Barrack Street become a danger to the public. 

Over the last decade in the wake of the last major economic crisis to face Ireland, the EU and international investors forced the country to accept bailout loans with terms and conditions attached that insured public services such as city council budgets would be slashed and burned. The result has been clear and obvious, with the above mentioned deterioration of public realm and public infrastructure, alongside severely pot-holed and disintegrating roads. 

City Manager Ann Doherty and her obsessions of making Cork simply ‘a great place to do business’ – is putting the interests of capital accumulation and private enterprise before the health, safety and living standards of the people of Cork. We call on Cork City Council to take immediate steps to guarantee the safety of the Cork public, and to maintain the city of Cork to a standard which is deserving of the hard-working, industrious city community which make Cork the fine place it is.