The Minister in charge of tackling Ireland’s rip-off retailers, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, still hasn’t met with five of the country’s largest supermarket chains, one month after Taoiseach Brian Cowen made his now-famous remark to: ‘Bring in those people and get a handle on it…you know all those f***ers’.
Minister Coughlan was responding to Dáil questions on rip-off prices from Fine Gael Enterprise Spokesman Leo Varadkar TD.
“The Tánaiste has admitted under questioning that she has not had any face-to-face discussions with Dunnes, Superquinn, Lidl, Aldi or Spar about the retail rip-off scandal. Four weeks after the Taoiseach told her to hold face-to-face meetings industry representatives, the only supermarket official Minister Coughlan has met is from Tesco.
“These retailers are charging up to 30% more on branded goods than their own stores in Northern Ireland. The Government is clearly not serious about tackling high prices and consumer rip-offs.
“Numerous price surveys conducted by Fine Gael, political parties and the National Consumer Agency have provided enough evidence to hold retailers to account. The time for analysis is over and the time for action is now. Minister Coughlan must meet all the supermarket operators face-to-face and demand that they reduce prices. Writing letters, as the Minister says she has done, is simply not good enough.
If the retailers refuse to do so, Minister Coughlan should amend the Companies Act to force them to reveal their Irish profits. She should also instruct the Competition Authority to conduct an investigation tin price fixing.
“Although the Minister has met with IBEC and Retail Ireland, she has clearly not turned her attention to the source of the rip-off: the supermarkets themselves. It’s time to show retailers that they cannot continue getting away with this massive rip-off. Yet the Minister’s half-hearted response shows the Fianna Fáil Government is not serious about standing up for consumers.”