Dun­dalk re­tail­ers and busi­nessess face rocky road

The Argus - - NEWS - Min­is­ter Si­mon Con­veney speak­ing at a Brexit meet­ing in Drogheda this week.

Dun­dalk’s re­tail­ers and busi­ness com­mu­nity are in for a ‘rocky road’ ahead if border con­trols are im­posed.

Mark Dearey, owner of the Spirit Store and chair­man of Dun­dalk Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil spoke on RTE’s Morn­ing Ireland about the re­al­ity of what such con­trols could mean for his home­town.

De­spite Theresa’s May’s claim that she would work with the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment to en­sure Brexit is as ‘fric­tion­less as pos­si­ble’ along the border, the busi­ness owner said he was ‘not op­ti­mistic’.

‘ The ac­tual im­pact on the ground for re­tail­ers and busi­nesses like my own that rely on the north­ern hin­ter­land, is ex­tremely chal­leng­ing and this is the case right across the border.’

He said the busi­ness com­mu­nity had learned to ‘ lean on each other, rely on each other, and deal with the cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions,’ but ad­mit­ted that the trad­ing sit­u­a­tion could be very dif­fi­cult at times. Cllr. Dearey warned that ‘ to layer on top of that a whole range of new un­cer­tain­ties’ could be dev­as­tat­ing for the border re­gion.

He said it was a ‘ hope­lessly op­ti­mistic view that the EU won’t im­pose tar­iffs, there­fore re­ward­ing Britain for elav­ing the union... that is sim­ply not go­ing to hap­pen.’

‘I think we are in for a re­ally rocky pe­riod, and while the ne­go­ti­a­tions may take two years, the im­ple­men­ta­tion could take ten. That is some­thing that re­ally wor­ries me as a busi­ness per­son, who has put sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment into at­tract­ing our north­ern cus­tomer base over the years.’

Cllr. Dearey said there were now great fears of re­turn­ing to a border sit­u­a­tion that was ‘ highly dis­rup­tive in pre­vi­ous years.’

‘It was a highly dis­rup­tive fea­ture that held back the town for many years.’

He added that the sit­u­a­tion only be­gan to im­prove af­ter the border was opened up to the free move­ment of peo­ple, goods and ser­vices.

The coun­cil­lor, and well known en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, also raised fears about ‘en­sur­ing the con­ti­nu­ity of many ser­vices and sys­tems in place for tourism, trans­port, health and emer­gency ser­vices.

‘ The wa­ter man­age­ment sys­tem that gov­erns our town is trans-border. So how is our wa­ter qual­ity go­ing to be as­sured?’

Mean­while, Paddy Malone, from Dun­dalk Cham­ber of Com­merce said the speech from the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter has lead to ‘con­fu­sion.’

‘How you can square cir­cles I re­ally don’t know? Af­ter so many months of un­cer­tainty it was a case of hop­ing she wasn’t go­ing to say what she did say.’

He ad­mit­ted that the plan to take the UK out of the cus­toms union leads to the in­creased like­li­hood of a border re­turn­ing.

‘ The chal­lenge of us is to con­tinue work­ing to get the very best for the border coun­ties.’

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