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Protesters staging demonstration outside Debenhams store in Dublin are moved on by gardaí

The closure of the stores saw the loss of 2,000 jobs.

Staff protesting outside Debenhams on Henry Street.
Staff protesting outside Debenhams on Henry Street.
Image: TheJournal.ie

DEBENHAMS WORKERS TODAY were moved on by gardaí in Dublin after gathering to demand better treatment from the company, which earlier this month announced that it would not re-open after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The closure saw the loss of 2,000 jobs and was announced after the UK retailer told staff that the business would be going into liquidation. 

The company had operated four stores in Dublin, two in Cork and others in Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, Tralee and Waterford.

Today, staff gathered outside the recently closed store on Henry Street in Dublin to call on the company to offer them a redundancy package, with similar protests also happening in Cork.

Before it closed, around 300 people had worked in the Henry Street shop, with some staff let go after working for the company for 24 years. 

Around 10 socially distanced protesters – wearing masks and gloves – were moved on from the front of the store by gardaí, before continuing the demonstration on nearby Moore Street. 

TheJournal.ie saw gardaí threatening protesters with arrest if they didn’t disperse.

Pauline, who worked at Debanhams, said that the company had “abandoned us”. 

“We would like them to face up to their responsibilities,” she said. At the moment, workers were only receiving “statutory redundancy, she added. 

Jane Crow, another worker, told TheJournal.ie that “we’re looking for our job safety really”.

“If they could open some of the stores back up some of us would have our jobs. It’s our livelihood. We have given 24 years service,” she said. 

“We’re just ordinary people in extraordinary times here that we can’t protest in normal ways. And so we’re just really asking for Debenhams to step up. Do the right thing, pay us properly,” she said.

Crow also criticised the response of gardaí, calling it “shocking”.

“I can’t believe the guards are moving us on. They’re saying it’s not essential. To us, it is essential. It’s our livelihood. We were doing it safely. We had a grid of how we were going to stand safely apart,” she said. 

In a statement, a garda spokesperson said that “due to concerns over adherence to current government instructions on non-essential journeys local Gardaí asked all persons present to disperse which they did without incident”. 

Debenhams in Ireland operates under a separate company, Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Ltd, following an examinership process in the Republic of Ireland in 2016.

Under that process, the vast majority of the company’s 1,400 directly employed staff, some 500 concession staff and 300 cosmetic staff were to be retained. 

Over a million people are now receiving some kind of government income support, with half of those now receiving the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. 

With reporting from Stephen McDermott

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