The joint provisional liquidators of Debenhams' Irish operation KPMG are seeking High Court injunctions to restrain allegedly unlawful actions by former employees and others at any of its 11 stores across the country.

Kieran Wallace and Andrew O'Leary of KPMG are also trying to halt interference with their efforts to take possession of the company's stock and other assets, so that their value can be realised as part of the liquidation. 

Lyndon MacCann SC for the liquidators told the court they had no choice but to come to court "reluctantly" as the situation at several stores had become "critical" - and that if they did not get the stock back, they ran the risk of not being able to realise its value for creditors. 

It was stated that the liquidators' application arose out of allegedly unlawful actions by the named defendants at the Debenhams stores at City Square Shopping Centre, Waterford, and Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Cork.

They claim that the defendants and unknown others have breached the Industrial Relations Act 1990 in allegedly maintaining unlawful actions in blocking access to and from the stores, amounting to unlawful interference with the liquidation.

The liquidators say there have been "numerous instances" over the last number of weeks of third parties, many of whom cannot be identified because their faces are covered by masks, interfering with the liquidators and their staff in carrying out their duties.

They allege that the behaviour of individuals engaging in unlawful demonstrations at some or all of the company's stores is causing severe disruption to the orderly wind down of the company's operations - adding that they are "strongly of the view" that the form of demonstrations being carried out by certain former employees and/or members of the public is unlawful.

The liquidators say efforts by their representatives on the ground have failed to persuade those involved to desist from unlawful actions complained of.

Mr Wallace and Mr O'Leary say that while they have "little doubt" some of those involved in the actions are motivated by frustration and anger over their treatment by the Debenhams group, there is "unfortunately nothing" the liquidators can do to meet their demand of an additional redundancy package of some €13m, on top of statutory redundancy entitlements.

In a lengthy affidavit, Mr Wallace said what was originally industrial action supported by the Mandate trade union had in recent weeks "taken on an altogether more sinister form".

However, it was acknowledged that Mandate, which represents 85% of the workforce, had called for picketing to be peaceful, and did not support unlawful industrial action. 

The injunctions are being sought against three named individuals: Stephen Troy of Fairfield Close, Belvedere Manor, Co Waterford; Denis O'Brien of Sunrise Crescent, Browns Road, Co Waterford and  Carole Bridgeman of Meadowpark Lawn, Ballyvolane, Co Cork.

It is alleged Mr Troy and Mr O'Brien were involved in unlawful actions at Debenhams' Waterford store and Ms Bridgeman was among others who unlawfully gained access to a store in Cork in early September and refused to leave for a number of days.

Injunctions are also sought against any persons acting in concert with them or having notice of the application.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds granted an ex parte (one side only represented) application today for the injunction application to be served at short notice. The matter will be back in court next Tuesday. 

She ruled that the defendants should be provided with "cease and desist" letters in advance of that hearing, adding the court should be informed if there were consent to the orders sought.

The judge also asked to be told if the liquidators became aware of any plans for protests at the Four Courts next week arising from the injunction application. 

Mr MacCann said they were likely to be the last to know, but would inform the court if they became aware of any such plans.