‘It’s actually out of control’ – RTÉ Report on abuse of Irish shop workers airs tonight
21 Mar 2023 2:41 PM
An RTÉ Prime Time report on the harassment and abuse faced by Irish retail workers is set to air tonight (March 21).
The programme reveals the experiences of shop workers across Ireland, from physical attacks and shoplifting to anti-social behaviour.
Shane Gleeson, who runs five Spar shops in Limerick city, told Prime Time: “I’ve had a bottle of wine broken and been threatened with the broken glass. I’ve had guys with needles…My son was threatened with a knife.”
Shane estimates that petty crime is costing him €70,000 to €80,000 per year in just one of his five shops.
He said, “We’ve noticed since Covid a very small element of society has gotten far more aggressive, and it is difficult to deal with.”
“Routinely, they’ll say, ‘I will wait for you outside’, ‘We’ll get you when you go home’, ‘I will kill you… I’ll burn you out’.”
Tara Buckley, Director General of RGDATA, which represents over 4,000 independent grocery stores, told Prime Time: “The amount of crime, day in, day out, shoplifting, theft, assault, harassment, racist attacks, sexual harassment…our members are really concerned.”
She added, “Young staff are being harassed; the racism staff, who are from other countries, have to deal with; spitting, kicking, punching, shouting and making a scene in the store, throwing things at them. It’s actually out of control.”
Sisters Sheila and Catherine Clarke run Clarke’s XL shop in Ballina, Co Mayo. Sheila told Prime Time: “At the moment, we’re almost going through a pandemic of petty crime.”
Elaine Brennan, an area Manager for Circle K in Dublin, said, “I have witnessed staff members being verbally abused, racially abused and …physically abused. A small portion of our business will be 24/7 and at later stages of the night we get people in intoxicated. This would bring on aggressive behaviour, which leads to foul language, shouting and, unfortunately, sometimes they will put their hands on our colleagues.”
A recent RGDATA survey of the owners of 400 convenience shops, forecourt stores and supermarkets found that 95% of them have been victims of crime in the last twelve months.
The survey found that 93% have been victims of shoplifting and a quarter have been the victims of robberies or burglaries.
Watch the full report ‘Retail Torment’ on Prime Time tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.
Image and video: RTÉ Prime Time