Emotions are running high in Edenderry this week, with reports Bart’s Cancer Charity Shop on JKL Street is to close on Saturday because it can’t meet a monthly demand of over €1,700 in rates from Offaly County Council.
A notice in the shop that’s been open less than a year puts the closure down to a monthly demand of €1,713.84, while average monthly profits run to just €902.
“It’s double the amount we make in the shop,” founder Bart Murphy explained to the Offaly Independent.
“If they ran rates on your income there would be no problem. I have no problem with paying the rates; it’s the fact I have to pay ten times more than I can afford.”
There are currently 28 Bart’s Cancer Charity Shops in all counties in Leinster bar Louth and Laois.
The profits from those shops are used to meet transport and other costs for cancer sufferers who have to travel for treatment sessions.
Croghan resident Gillian Batty put her son Jason Britton in touch with the group when his partner Denise Farrell had to travel to St Luke’s in Dublin for cervical cancer treatment last year.
At the time neither Jason nor Denise were working, and with three children aged eleven, five and three their need was great.
They had transport costs covered for them on two occasions.
“It meant we weren’t struggling to try and get transport for Denise’s treatment, and didn’t have to delay the treatment in any way,” Jason said.
With Denise since given the all-clear, Jason said he’s grateful Bart helped them out when it was needed.
“It makes me feel quite angry,” he said of news of the closure of the Edenderry shop.
“For a man that does so much for everybody else there should be more understanding.
“They should be able to come to some kind of arrangement.”
Though Bart’s Cancer Charity Shops don’t yet have charitable status from Revenue, Bart says that with the goal of raising as much money as he can for cancer sufferers, he just can’t afford to pay the bill to keep the Edenderry store open.
“I can’t keep providing a service at a cost to other cancer sufferers,” he said, adding that it’s the council and not Edenderry locals he has a gripe with.
“I have nothing but respect for the people of Edenderry,” he said.
“It’s not their fault the shop has to close.”
Most of Bart’s other shops are not as highly rated, he added. “I have a much bigger shop in New Ross and it’s €2,500 less in rates per year for 2,500 square foot more.”
Meanwhile manager and the only paid member of staff of Bart’s Cancer Charity Shop in Edenderry Tina Marshall said she’s moved to tears that locals have taken the shop’s plight to heart.
“I can’t believe the response,” she said.
The Offaly Independent contacted Offaly County Council for a comment on this matter, but has as yet received no reply.