M&S move becomes bone of contention

A PLAN by Marks and Spencer to move to Kerry has become an election issue in the county.

Following Tralee Town Council’s rejection last week of the British retail giant’s proposal to open a store in a shopping centre on the town’s outskirts, Killarney is trying to lure M&S.

However, Sinn Féin candidate in Kerry South Lynn Ní Bhaoighhealláin — who opposes out-of-town shopping centres — has called on Killarney Town Council to follow Tralee’s lead.

She said all international evidence strongly suggested major out-of-town shopping developments resulted in the death of small businesses within towns.

“They literally suck the life out of small towns,” she claimed. “These developments always promise jobs but don’t always deliver on them.”

But Jackie Healy-Rae backs efforts to bring M&S to Killarney. The Independent TD said he “was in touch with public opinion” and believed the majority of people in Killarney were in favour of having M&S.

The company had promised 100 jobs for Tralee if it was allowed to open a store at Manor West Retail Park on the southern outskirts of the town. There are continuing claims in Tralee that Manor West is undermining business in the town centre. However, there was negative public reaction to the Tralee Town Council decision and Killarney immediately pitched for M&S.

Meanwhile, local pressure on Fianna Fáil has forced the Government to yield to demands for a €29 million bypass for Castleisland.

After an announcement the long-awaited bypass had been delayed, a business and community group launched a ‘no bypass, no votes’ campaign. The threat to vote against FF got the desired result, with the party’s local TD Tom McEllistrim saying work on the bypass would start next year.

Castleisland is the main gateway into Kerry from Limerick and Dublin, but is a major bottleneck.

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