A few weeks ago, listening to the news on the radio over breakfast, it was one tragic story after another, and then the newsreader added a pep to her tone with the line "...and now for some good news".
Rather than put a smile on my face, her final news snippet was the most tragic story of all, made worse because it was feted as a joyous event - Dealz, the discount retailer, had opened it's 17th outlet in the republic of Ireland. Where do I begin? This is a tragedy on so many levels, a tale without light.
Firstly I suggest that you look at their "grocery" page on their website. Jars of hot dogs, tins of "pork luncheon meat", pot noodles, chocolate and biscuits. Do we not care about what our nation is eating? Do we not care about the adverse effects on health caused by a diet of convenience food?
Next, look at the prices. Most items retail at €1.49. How will small independent retailers survive if they are loosing customers to these insanely cheap prices? And how can nutritional food be sold at such a low price? (Obviously it can't, nutrition is not for sale in Dealz).
Thirdly, look at the origin of most of the food. The milk is Bangor Maid milk from Co.Down, the meats are made by Struik Foods, a Dutch company, the sugar is made by Whitworths, a U.K. based company, all products that we produce (or produced, as the sugar beet factories have been closed in Ireland for some years) ourselves in Ireland. How do we expect our agricultural industry to grow when the opening of a retail outlet that sells mainly imported food products is hailed as a good thing?
Lastly, I refer to Dealz the great employer. Today's opening brings the number of jobs Dealz has created in Ireland to over 490. RTE journalist, Philip Boucher Hayes, in his documentary What's Ireland Eating(2011), showed that for every job created by a supermarket giant, 1.5 jobs are lost locally within 2-3 years. So you see, this is a tragic story. Dealz should not be lauded as a great employer or a positive business that will work for the good of the nation. Dealz, and the likes of Dealz, do nothing but harm everything and everyone in its path, from the customer who is now tucking into a sandwich of slice pan and tinned bacon, to the small local traders who are struggling to survive, to the nations economy.
I speak for Ireland, and the damage these discount retailers are doing to our economy, communities and health, but the same applies to all countries who allow these retailers to grow.