‘406 DAYS’ will be screened in Mahon Point today, 25 May.

Powerful doc coming to Cork

By Marguerite Kiely

A documentary telling the story of 1,000 Debenham workers who were made redundant by email in 2020 is set to hit Cork cinema screens this week.

Produced by Fergus Dowd and directed by Joe Lee, ‘406 DAYS’ documents the ordeal of the workers, who discovered they were jobless through a generic email on 9 April 2020 after Debenhams UK Retail Ltd closed all 11 Irish stores including their flagship store on Henry Street, Dublin 1.

The workforce, which was 95% female, had been denied an earlier agreed redundancy package.

They voted to go on official strike and blocked stock from being removed from the 11 stores by the liquidator.

The workers remained on the picket lines, through the Covid-19 pandemic for 406 days, making it the longest industrial dispute in Irish labour history. It finally ended in May 2021 through a compromise government-sponsored proposal based on a retraining fund.

To date €519k of the €3m training fund has been taken up, which is only 17% of the fund.

Out of the 2,000 workers involved, only 243 people used the scheme.

There will be a special screening of the documentary today, Thursday 25 May, at 8pm at the Omniplex in Mahon Point, which will be hosted by Seán Óg Ó hAilpín with music by John Spillane. It will go on general release on Friday 26 May.

Meanwhile, Elverys, the Irish sports retail chain, has obtained ownership of the former Debenhams building situated on Patrick's Street in Cork city centre.

The building, which has been vacant since 2020, was bought for €12 million, €8 million less than its asking price according to the Irish Examiner.

There is an expectation that Elverys will occupy a portion of the expansive 14,000 square-foot premises, leaving room for other brands to utilise the available retail space as well.