Last night they walked in tears from the store where some had worked since it opened in 1979, after being told they were all being made redundant.
As they emerged many hugged each other. One woman said that while they had known for the last week that it was more than likely their jobs would be lost, it had been like a hammer blow when their fears were finally confirmed.
The man who broke the news to them was store manager Eamon O’Donovan, whose own job is one of those lost. “It was very difficult,” he said last night. “But someone had to do it. I have built up a relationship with these people so I preferred that it was me.
“It has been a very difficult week and a very difficult day. At this moment in time my thoughts are with the staff. This store opened in 1979 and many of those people had been there since then. ”
Lorraine Moylan had worked for the company for 25 years and was part of a Mandate delegation that met with shopping centre owner Joe O’Donovan earlier this week.
She said: “I would like to thank all the staff for coming out and campaigning throughout the week and also the hundreds of people who signed our petition.”
She also thanked Eamon O’Donovan for his support to the staff during the week, although she refused to comment on the actions of Joe O’Donovan or M&S.
Maureen McCarthy had worked for Roches for 30 years and retired a month ago, yet she spent much of the last week campaigning with her former colleagues.
She was in tears as she stood with her colleagues.
Many thanked Brian Moloney, the Mandate official who was among a team from the union who had fought during the week to save the jobs. He said: “The events of this week have been a roller-coaster for these people, but in the end greed has prevailed. Profit takes precedence over 172 jobs.”
His colleague Linda Tanham said: “We are now calling on Roches Stores to reopen the store for trading as soon as possible. This is an extremely successful store in a very popular shopping centre and we are requesting now that Roches move to re-open until such time as other expressions of interest are forthcoming.
“Ultimately, the landlord who owns the premises must take the responsibility for this crisis. It is clear to us that the primary motivation in this situation was his own narrow financial considerations, and this is a difficult fact to swallow for those who look likely to lose their jobs.”
Joe O’Donovan was unavailable for comment last night.