This is a very difficult situation that the workers and their families have had to face.
I, along with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Troy, have met with Debenhams employees and their union, Mandate, on a number of occasions to hear their views and concerns about the liquidation of Debenhams Ireland. The Government wants the best outcome possible for the workers, within the legal framework. I would urge all parties to reflect and resume engagement towards a fair resolution.
Debenhams is insolvent and the liquidation is proceeding under the supervision of the High Court. The Government cannot intervene with a liquidator, who has a statutory duty to realise assets and distribute to creditors in accordance with the law. Equally the Government has no statutory power to intervene in a court-supervised liquidation, that is subject to oversight of the High Court. It remains necessary to wait for confirmation of the position from the liquidator in terms of payments to employees and other creditors, and ultimately the conclusion of the High Court on the liquidation.
In the meantime, the State guarantees statutory employment rights to workers, including statutory redundancy. As of the 12th of October, the Department of Social Protection has received 1,497 claims, with 729 under the Redundancy Payments Scheme and 768 under the Insolvency Payments Scheme.
By Friday 16th October, 402 redundancy payments will have been made and 251 payments will be made under the Insolvency Payments Scheme.
Minister Troy and I are working with officials on a range of issues currently being considered in the context of Debenhams. We will be meeting the social partners to discuss the matter shortly and we have been in contact about this. The issues are complex and there is no obvious solution. Nevertheless, work on this has been prioritised and continues.