A warning that the new supermarket development earmarked for the former Dairygold site in Cahir would result in job losses has been issued this week.
Local businessman Cornelius Traas from Moorstown, Cahir, has also criticised what he described as Cllr. Seanie Lonergan’s “bizarre public welcoming” of the supermarket to the town.
It was announced last week that a supermarket development for the site had been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala and it’s understood that the anchor tenant will be Tesco.
Mr. Traas, who owns The Apple Farm between Cahir and Clonmel, says this week that Cllr. Lonergan’s statement that the development would mean more jobs for the town and more choice for consumers “only demonstrates that he has failed to learn any of the lessons of the property boom and bust”.
Mr. Traas claims that in research published in 2008 it was shown that Ireland had twice the retail floor space per head of population, compared to the next highest country in Europe (the UK), and that we had three and-a-half times as much retail space as the EU average.
“While this has come down in the interim (with awful consequences for those formerly employed in these shops), the ex-editor of Checkout magazine recently reported that Ireland still has twice the retail space that it requires. The consequence of this is of course inefficiency and this is paid for ultimately by the consumer through higher prices”.
Mr. Traas said the New Economics Foundation had shown that shops of this sort were damaging to the local economy, social inclusion and local identity.
He claims that for every five jobs generated in such a store fifteen are lost in local butchers, grocers and other shops and that this had already happened in Clonmel.
“It is also now an accepted fact that €10 spent in a Tesco-type store generates a mere €4 extra to the local economy, whereas €10 spent in a local outlet generates an extra €24, or is six times as good for the local economy.
It seems that Cllr. Lonergan must not have noticed that the existing shops are closing for lack of business and instead wants to build some more. If this is not the ultimate example of the mentality that got Ireland into its current fix I don’t know what is.
All I can hope for is that Cllr. Lonergan’s opinions are not shared by his fellow councillors. Ten years ago I would not have been surprised to see them lined up at the official opening of the latest fiasco. Today I hope they have learned the lessons of the problems caused by this type of development and that they would have some more sense”, Mr. Traas added.