Irish consumer affairs director Carmel Foley, the woman charged with enforcing the controversial groceries order banning below-cost selling in the Irish Republic, has stepped down after seven years.
Trade and enterprise minister Micheál Martin paid tribute to “the professional and dedicated manner” in which she had championed the consumer cause, a compliment that even her critics would acknowledge.
Foley brought successful prosecutions against both Tesco and Dunnes Stores for breaches of the below-cost ban and spoke out about the low level of fines imposed for such offences. It was her decision to take Dunnes to court for below-cost selling of nappies that hastened the demise of the order. A judge threw out the case, ruling that nappies could not be classed as groceries. TV pundit Eddie Hobbs seized on the issue, urging viewers to send nappies to minister Martin in protest against the groceries order, which he claimed kept prices higher than they needed to be. The minister’s office was swamped and the rest is history.
Foley has been appointed to the Ombudsman Commission overseeing the Gardai.
Meanwhile, Bill Prasifka, a US lawyer, who was previously the Republic’s aviation regulator, is to succeed John Fingleton, now chief executive of the OFT, as chair of the Irish Competition Authority. Legislation abolishing the below-cost selling ban goes through parliament in the next few months.