Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Peadar Tóibín TD today said the government must listen to the retail sector and live up to its pre-election promise to tackle upward only rents.
Deputy Tóibín said;
“This government was elected with a pledge to end Upward Only Rents Clauses that are strangling business. They included this pledge in the programme for government.
“There was an extensive lobby by estate agents, landlords and developers opposed to this pledge. The government sided with these vested interests and dropped its promise. Since then they have hidden behind unseen and unpublished advice by the Attorney General.
“Other legal advice commissioned by Retail Excellence Ireland identifies a way forward to end the application of these leases. I tabled a bill in April last year that would address this matter.
“The government has refused to provide time for the bill to be progressed and have tried to close down the debate at all times.
“Last week I raised the issue directly with the Minister for Small Business, John Perry on the floor of the Dáil.
“He replied that the government would not look again at the issue as, ‘It is not the issue that is closing down businesses at the moment’.
“Over 50,000 jobs have been lost in this sector and a further 30,000 at risk. It is clear that this government and ministers such as John Perry are completely disengaged from the reality facing small business, retailers and workers. They prioritise landowning vested interests over the real economy.
“Since this government refused to act on upward only rents major high street chains such as HMV, La Senza, Pamela Scott, Black Tie and now B&Q face closure and major job losses. These losses are replicated across towns and villages were small indigenous retailers have closed and only vacant shop fronts remain.
“The government needs to listen to the retail sector and act. What is required is the government to make good on its commitments to the retail sector and end upward only rents.”