Councillors lash Dunnes vacant unit

Retail chain criticised over long-vacant Tralee town-centre unit

Simon Brouder

Tralee councillors have hit out at Dunnes Stores over the chain's handling of a long-vacant unit it owns in Tralee Town Centre.

The former Dunnes Stores on Bridge Street, just off The Mall, has been vacant since the chain closed the shop over a decade ago.

At Monday's meeting of the Tralee Municipal District council - during a debate on a new incentive scheme aimed at filling vacant units in the town and revitalising the town centre - several councillors hit out at the retailer.

Independent Cllr Sam Locke said that measures need to be taken to deal with the vacant Dunnes unit, adding that the retailer had "thrown" council overtures "back in our face, time and time again".

Labour's Cllr Terry O'Brien accused the retail giant of holding the town to ransom and said it was time that the council "put the squeeze on Dunnes".

Sinn Féin's Cllr Toireasa Ferris - while not specifically referring to the Dunnes unit - said the council needs to enforce the powers available to it and impose full levies on the owners of vacant units unless they can provide a valid reason that a premises cannot be used by them or leased out.

"In the absence of that, I don't think we do all we can," said Cllr Ferris.

Following suggestions from Cllr Jim Finucane (Fine Gael), Norma Foley (Fianna Fáil) and Mayor of Tralee Cllr Graham Spring (Labour), the council agreed to write to Dunnes CEO Margaret Heffernan and raise the matter of the vacant Tralee unit with her directly.