Dundalk retailers and businessess face rocky road
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.’