FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for Cork City Council to adjust the Patrick Street car ban, saying that it is damaging city centre businesses.
The ban, which prevents vehicles other than taxis and buses from using Patrick Street from 3pm to 6.30pm, has faced renewed criticism in recent weeks.
Seven city retailers, including Newbridge Silverware and Athlete’s Foot, have closed since Christmas, although six new businesses opened during December.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn is seeking to pass a motion through the City Council which would force a reversal of the ban.
While Mr Martin stopped short of supporting a complete reversal, he said that the strategy needs to be revisited.
“I don’t think it’s working. I think they should certainly modify it again,” he said.
“My feedback from city centre retailers is that the current traffic management plan isn’t working, and it’s working to their detriment.
“Particularly after 3pm in the afternoon, there has been a serious drop in footfall,” he added.
He said that the City Council can’t ignore the closure of retailers, and said it needs to make decisions about its priorities for the city centre.
“When I met with the city authorities last year, I put it to them that you’ve got to make up your mind: do you want retail in the city centre? If you do, that has consequences.
“It can’t just be a hospitality centre.
“A lot of people want to go into town to shop and do various things. We don’t want the city centre to become a ghost area,” he said.
“It’s come a long way in terms of the streetscape, and a lot of premises have come to life, but you do need footfall.
“You need a combination of measures to make sure that retails can survive. At the moment, they’re telling me they are at the pin of their collar,” he added.