Yesterday we brought you a story about the selling of clothes in Dunnes Stores Enniscorthy. That story can be accessed here: Small Retailers Angry as Clothes for Sale in Dunnes | WexfordToday.com
In that article we posed the following question and promised to investigate the matter:
In trying to answer this question we made a number of enquiries.
We contacted local TD’s James Browne and Paul Kehoe who are representatives of government parties.
At the time of writing Deputy Kehoe was yet to respond, while Deputy Browne said he has referred the matter to the Department of Justice. It must be noted that Deputy Browne is in fact a Minister in the Department of Justice.
We then contacted the Department of Health and asked them to provide ‘clarity in relation to what clothing items are deemed as essential under the current restrictions’.
We did receive a response, however the response did not answer our question but instead answered a question that we didn’t ask.
We then decided to look through the government website for clarity around what clothing items were classed as essential. This information is not available on the government website.
In the last 8 hours we have contacted a Minister at the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and have trawled through the government websites, but have not been able to find a list which outlines what is considered essential clothing.
The absence of such detail places some retailers in an invidious position.
We were referred, by the Department of Health to the following section of the government website:
As can be clearly seen here, the only mention of the sale of clothing in these restrictions is in point 10, where such clothing is an essential safety supply. Presumably items such as hobnail boots and reflective clothing fall into this category.
This finding raises 2 questions:
- Why are supermarkets selling clothing at all if they are not listed as essential above?
- What criteria are these supermarkets using to justify what they believe meet the requirements?
Below are a number of photographs taken earlier today from Dunnes Stores in Enniscorthy. There appears to be no rhyme or reason behind what they have decided to sell as essential. Take a look for yourself (bearing in mind that Dunnes Stores told us yesterday that tops are still closed off):
There are also some sections blocked off within the store. It is unclear what criteria is being used to divide the stock into ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’. It just further highlights the absurdity of the restrictions.
Yet again for the avoidance of doubt, the issue being highlighted here is the inconsistent application of the rules and the lack of clarity from Government as to what the rules actually are. If no rules are being broken, then there is no reason why other clothes shops in the same town cannot be open.
Some described yesterday’s article as pettiness. Let’s not forget that thousands of people across Ireland have been made unemployed by these restrictions. Hundreds of these businesses will never re-open. It is not unreasonable or petty to expect a clearly defined and consistent application of the rules.