Limerick Debenhams workers  lie on the ground in bid to stop removal of stock 

Stock remains in the Limerick and Cork stores, which former employees see as their last bargaining chip in their fight to get 'just redundancy settlements'
Limerick Debenhams workers  lie on the ground in bid to stop removal of stock 

Limerick Debenhams protest.

Former Debenhams workers in Limerick staged a protest last night in an effort to stop liquidators from removing stock.

Attempts were made to remove stock from the O’Connell Street store last night, which protestors blocked. 

Stock remains in the Limerick and Cork stores, which former employees see as their last bargaining chip in their fight to get 'just redundancy settlements'.

Video on social media showed people lying on the road in an attempt to prevent the stock from being removed.

It has been reported that staff blocked a delivery gate on Honan's Quay.

Upwards of 50 gardaí attended the scene, according to local politicians. 

A spokesperson for the gardaí said An Garda Síochána "attended a premises on O’Connell Street, Limerick as required in the execution of a High Court Order on 18 May 2021.

"An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time."

Speaking to Limerick’s Live 95, local councillor Joe Leddin claimed that what was happening was "appalling".

He said Debenhams has treated staff despicably.

Mary Cahalane of Solidarity, who was in attendance at the protest, claimed barricades were put up to prevent further people from lying on the ground.

She told the same show that the demonstration was largely peaceful and was “a show of solidarity”.

Cork TD Mick Barry said that he would be raising the issue in the Dáiltoday.

"More than 100 ex-Debenhams workers and their supporters blocked the removal of disputed stock from the Limerick store last night despite the mobilisation of more than 70 Gardai," he said on social media.  

"This issue of huge Garda mobilisations for strikebreaking purposes will be raised in the Dáil today."

Limerick Sinn Féin TD, Maurice Quinlivan, also questioned the use of Garda resources in support of KPMG efforts to remove stock from the store.

“Individual Gardaí have a job to do and were directed to support the KPMG effort to remove stock from the Limerick branch of Debenhams. However, one must question if this was a worthy use of limited Garda resources.” 

The TD said: “Last night we witnessed the deployment of up to 50 Garda personnel in support of KPMG stock removal efforts. For many in Limerick it will come as a surprise that there were so many Gardaí on duty. Too often when a member of the public or myself call the local Garda stations, the refrain heard is that that ‘there is no car available.’ However, when big business call it seems that there was no lack of resources made available to them by the State.”

James Tuohy of the Socialist Party said that the Debenhams workers "have been an inspiration."

Last week, ex-Debenhams staff in Waterford were removed from their blockade of the company's store overnight after a four-hour standoff.

On Saturday, the final Debenhams stores left open shut for the final time.

Debenhams, which employed more than 20,000 people before the pandemic, sold its brand and website to online giant Boohoo for £55m (€63.9m) in January but confirmed its bricks and mortar business would close for good.

The struggle former Debenhams staff has faced inspired Mr Barry to bring the Companies (Protection of Employees’ Rights in Liquidations) Bill 2021, dubbed the Debenhams Bill, to the Dáil.

The legislation would make workers preferential creditors in a liquidation so they would be paid what they were owed as a priority. 

The Government voted to defer the bill until next year. 

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