Last week Debenhams announced that it would place its Irish chain of stores into liquidation, including its Blanchardstown store.

This is a desperately disappointing decision, and my heart goes out to all those affected. Many staff working for Debenhams had also worked for its predecessor, Roches Stores, for many years.

I’ve spoken to the Mandate Trade Union, and fully support their calls for a pause in the liquidation process. The Protection of Employment Act requires a 30-day negotiation take place as part of any liquidation process, and that simply is not possible due the current restrictions.

I have also contacted the Minister for Social Protection, to ask that the Government to look at examine whether the 30-day period can be extended, given the current crisis. Both my letter and her reply can be seen below.

I’m particularly disappointed with how staff have been treated. There has been little consultation with staff, and no attempt at dialogue, with formal notification of the closure being done via email.

In an email to staff in the UK, Debenhams CEO Stefaan Vansteenkiste lauded the company’s messaging landing well with the media and complained about “noise focussed on how many stores we are going to close and how many jobs will be lost.”

The reality is that this is not just “noise”, but people’s livelihoods.

If anyone affected by this decision has any concerns, please do get in touch with my office – roderic.ogorman@oireachtas.ie.