Supporters of former Debenhams' employees have urged Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to consider his position after gardaí were deployed to move protesters to allow the liquidator KPMG to extract stock from the Henry Street store in Dublin.
Footage streamed early this morning showed protestors, who attempted to block access to the stores, being physically removed by up to 50 gardaí.
Gardaí confirmed they had attended a premises as required for the execution of a High Court order which had previously been secured by KPMG to enable the liquidation to proceed.
In a statement this evening, KPMG stated: "The Liquidators are simply seeking to complete the process which is entirely lawful based on the Court order which the Liquidators received from the High Court a number of weeks ago."
"It is worth noting that all employees have received all of their legal redundancy entitlements," they concluded.
Since Debenhams Ireland went into liquidation 13 months ago, around 1,000 workers who lost their jobs have been campaigning for the enhanced redundancy terms of four weeks per year of service provided for under a previous collective agreement, rather than the legal minimum of two weeks.
A cohort of the workers and their supporters have maintained pickets on the 11 stores to prevent KPMG from removing stock.
They argue that the proceeds of that stock should be allocated to fund the improved redundancy payments - but there is no legal basis for this to happen.
The government has made available a ring-fenced €3 million training fund for the workers, to enable them to improve their skills and prospects of new employment.
Just yesterday, the workers agreed to ballot on that proposal.
Outside Debenhams this afternoon, shop steward Jane Crowe described being "manhandled" by six gardaí, and alleged that her coat and top had come off, and that her bra strap had been broken.
She said gardaí had taken her name and address and put the workers outside to make room for the liquidator's trucks to come in.
She said one truck had removed a full container of stock.
Ms. Crowe said she could not get over the number of gardaí who had turned up, suggesting that many would not have turned up to a "terrorist act".
She accused their union Mandate of not doing enough to support the workers.
Her former colleague Carmel Redmond said the Garda operation had been very well organised.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett who was present during last night's confrontation said Garda Commissioner Drew Harris should consider his position if he could not explain why such "heavy-handed" tactics had been used.
He said he had never seen the scale of last night's operation before, with officers in "paramilitary" garb and the whole of Parnell Square cordoned off.
He accused gardaí of "colluding" with KPMG to break a strike during Level 5 restrictions, by carrying out "non-essential" work.
Michael O'Brien of the Socialist Party who streamed the footage for two and a half hours during the night, alleged gardaí had pushed past protestors who had been out of work for 54 weeks to allow "KPMG to come in.
Earlier, the workers' union Mandate condemned the tactics of gardaí, with General Secretary Gerry Light describing the incident as "entirely unnecessary and preventable" and reiterated previous calls for legislation to boost workers rights in situations of insolvency.
However, the workers accused Mandate of failing to do enough to support the workers.