File to DPP after 18 complaints against Limerick bridal store

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Shirley Flanagan, of Robelle bridal store in Annacotty
A FILE is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to a bridal store in Annacotty, after 18 complaints from brides-to-be and suppliers were lodged with gardai in recent weeks.

A FILE is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to a bridal store in Annacotty, after 18 complaints from brides-to-be and suppliers were lodged with gardai in recent weeks.

Supt Derek Smart, Henry Street garda station, confirmed to the Limerick Leader that a number of different “injured parties” have come forward, and complaints are still coming in, in relation to an outlet in the Annacotty area.

“We are still actively investigating this matter, and a file will be sent to the DPP either next week or in the coming weeks,” said Supt Smart.

The brides in question have failed to receive the dresses they ordered, and have also been unable to secure their deposits, some of which were as high as €2,000 for €5,000 dresses.

In a statement released by her solicitor, Shirley Flanagan, proprietor of Robelle Bridal, said: “It is with regret that my bridal business has ceased to trade and will not re-open. Robelle first opened its doors in December 2014 and, as is the case with any small business in its infancy, it was at its most vulnerable when social media grasped the disappointment of a small number of customers, and a media frenzy ensued.

“New business ground to a halt and cancelled orders made the business unsustainable. Every effort will be made by me to facilitate the honouring of orders through other retailers or to refund brides over time. It was always my intention to run a successful bridal business and to provide a quality service to customers. I have no further comment to make to the media on the matter,” adds the statement, signed by Ms Flanagan.

It is understood that Ms Flanagan has not been interviewed by gardai to date.

Meanwhile, a bride-to-be in Dublin who won a competition in the Evening Herald newspaper last year said she has been in tears since the news broke that dozens of brides have been unable to secure their dream dress, after paying deposits of up to €2,000.

“Words can’t explain how I feel,” she told the Limerick Leader. “I was completely overwhelmed when I won the dress, just gobsmacked. I eventually went down to the store in Limerick with my fiance’s mother, and Shirley was so lovely to us. There was champagne and truffles on our arrival, and she closed the shop for us.

“I picked out the dress - beautiful it was, out of this world. It was €2,500 and the competition was for a €2,000 dress, but she said it didn’t matter, that she’d put the order in but it could take 10 months to be made.

“I rang the company, Sophia Tolli, and they said no order for my dress had been made. I’m devastated. I’ve cried my heart and soul out. I have to put a stop to my wedding now, because I can’t afford an expensive dress right now.”

The bride-to-be said she tried to make a complaint to the gardai, but couldn’t as no money changed hands.

“I still can’t understand how she could do that to me and all the other brides.”

The bride-to-be, 33, has been with her partner for seven years, and was accompanied by his mother to Limerick. It was her future mother in law who had entered the competition on her behalf. “She was ever so nice, just lovely, very winning,” she said of Ms Flanagan. “I actually feel a bit sorry for her to be honest”.

Ms Flanagan was previously before Limerick District Court in March 2013 charged with five counts of deception and two charges of producing a forged certificate dating back to 2009 and 2010.

The court was told on that occasion that she had dishonestly induced five people to lodge money into her AIB bank account in Limerick.