Cross-border shopping a ‘challenge’

Cross-border shopping on the back of Brexit will likely increase in the run up to Christmas, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has signalled, and is now a “challenge” for areas south of the border.

Mr Kenny was speaking in the wake a British court ruling which could see Westminster vote on Brexit.

Mr Kenny said this week that negotiations in Europe could turn “vicious” once Brexit is triggered.

Visiting Newry, Belfast, and the border region yesterday, he spoke about Irish towns hit by Brexit.

“More recently we have seen a growth in the number of shoppers crossing the border to take advantage of cheaper sterling.

“Of course this is a phenomenon that we have seen before and are likely to see more of in the run-up to Christmas.

“I am conscious that while this is good news for retailers here in Newry, on the other side of the border the sterling effect is a real challenge.

“This is something that was brought home to me during my visit to Dundalk earlier today.”

A weekend survey found a third of respondents are considering travelling North for their Christmas shopping this year.

Meanwhile, Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor has candidly declared that British authorities “do not know what they are doing” when it comes to triggering Brexit.

The Fine Gael minister also faced criticism yesterday over not being able to answer questions about what the Government was doing.

She faced questions from Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins who asked why no specific export fund had been set up for businesses hit by Brexit.

The minister said her department had received a 10% rise in its budget next year, which included an extra €3m in current spending and €52m in capital funds.

But the biggest threat was “uncertainty”, she added, saying this was evident when she met British ministers in London earlier this week.

“When I was in the UK yesterday, I met a number of people who are negotiating the Brexit deal for the UK. May I tell the deputy that they do not know what they are doing and they do not know when they will be invoking Article 50.”

The minister defended actions being taken to boost rural employment outside of Dublin. She referenced 58% of site visits by investment firms outside Dublin this year.

But Mr Collins said 10 counties had one or two site visits while Dublin had 145.

Labour’s Alan Kelly said it was “extraordinary” the minister did not know how often a special Cabinet Brexit committee had met, what contacts were had with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, or who Ireland would send for negotiations. The minister said she would write to the TD.

More on this topic

Brian Keegan: Businesses approaching Brexit looking for opportunities may do well in the long runBrian Keegan: Businesses approaching Brexit looking for opportunities may do well in the long run

'Frustration' at British switch in Brexit stance - Coveney'Frustration' at British switch in Brexit stance - Coveney

Dublin Port expansion approval ‘ignores Brexit realities,’ group saysDublin Port expansion approval ‘ignores Brexit realities,’ group says

Draft Brexit agreement reached with EU on Irish food exportsDraft Brexit agreement reached with EU on Irish food exports