Reacting to the news today that British retail chain, Marks & Spencer is to close four of its stores in Ireland, Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD, Sean Crowe, said that austerity is undermining the domestic economy and making the crisis in the retail sector worse.

Deputy Crowe, who represents Tallaght where one of the stores will close, said:

“It is very worrying that Marks & Spencer has announced that nearly 200 jobs will go in its Irish operation.

“I know that the announcement is devastating for people in Mullingar, Kildare and Dún Laoghaire as well as in my own constituency.

“In the case of Tallaght, I know from the company, that the lack of footfall has reached unsustainable levels. It is another example of the crisis with a store like this being surrounded by empty units, some of which are in NAMA.

“The crisis in the retail sector in general has been worsened by government inaction on upward-only rents, high commercial rates and of course, lack of credit to the business people trying to stay afloat during this crisis.

“The greatest threat to jobs, however, is government policy. Austerity is undermining the domestic economy, causing hardship, costing jobs and leading to economic stagnation. How can people support the retail sector when they have no disposable income?

“These job losses will have a huge impact on the workers and their families, it will also impact on their communities with a reduction in their spending power locally.

“Unfortunately the spectre of job losses is facing thousands of other workers throughout the state and highlights the need for a job-friendly budget. The government should now change tack and invest in our people and economy.”