Cork TDs have called for support for workers who have lost their jobs due to the closure of Debenhams.
It emerged on Thursday that approximately 350 people in Cork would be affected by the closure of the two stores in St Patrick’s St and Mahon Point shopping centre.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould described the closure of Debenhams as “a big loss to Cork and a major blow to the retailer’s workers and their families”.
Debenhams had been experiencing problems before the Covid-19 emergency; however, Mr Gould said that the news was still “extremely distressing” for those who are facing the loss of their jobs.
“It really is a double blow for workers who are already struggling financially because of the public health crisis,” said Mr Gould.
He said that the closure of the two stores in Cork, which are in prominent locations, “will have serious knock-on effects for neighbouring stores”.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry, meanwhile, called for urgent action by the State to save the jobs of Debenhams workers nationwide.
He described the Debenhams closure as a “test case” on how the State responds to the reality that a number of large privately owned companies could close in the coming weeks and months. Mr Barry called for the books of the company to be made available for inspection by Debenhams workers and their trade union representatives.
He said that such an inspection could examine how public ownership and diversification of business could be used to save thousands of jobs.
“A new business plan could be put in place based on public ownership and some diversification of business,” he said.
“This will not be the last big private sector employer which shuts in the next weeks and months and as such is a test case as to how the State intervenes to protect jobs in the new circumstances.”
Fine Gael TD Colm Burke said that there are huge challenges facing retailers across the city due to the Covid-19 crisis, and that the challenges will continue for up to two years.
“I think it’s a really difficult time for the Debenhams workers who have given a lot of years of service through the company,” he said. “We must do everything possible right across the whole retail sector, giving supports when this epidemic is over, because it’s not going to be easy for retailers to get up on their feet again.
“In relation to Debenhams, it’s just about workers now and how can we assist them into the future. The retail sector is one of the areas that will be really challenged, especially in the city centre.”