There was an interesting letter in the Irish Times last Friday. It proposes what could be a useful compromise for Irish consumers who are seeking the best value possible, while still supporting Irish businesses.
Given the discussions on ValueIreland.com recently about Buying Irish, for those that can travel to Newry, or presumably Enniskillen or Derry as well, this might keep everyone happy:
Madam, – Fiona McCann’s article “Your country needs you (to spend, spend, spend” (Weekend Review November 8th) proves beyond doubt that patriotism is the last refuge of the grocer.
As a Newry resident it galls me to read of politicians and business people trying to make citizens of the Republic guilty about shopping in Northern Ireland. In particular, Newry is singled out several times as an occasion of retail sin for southern shoppers.
It needs to be pointed out that partition separated Newry from a large part of its natural hinterland in Louth and Monaghan. This led to a decline which eventually saw unemployment of around 30 per cent in the town and district. If, at the moment, price differentials are encouraging southern shoppers to spend their money in Newry, perhaps southern retailers should examine their pricing policy.
You can buy Irish butter, Irish cheese, Irish bacon and indeed Irish whiskey in Newry just as in Dublin – the only difference being that these products are a lot cheaper in Newry than south of the Border. Why, exactly, are southern shoppers being “patriotic” by paying a southern grocer over the odds for Irish butter or whiskey in Dublin when they can pay a fair price for the same product in Newry? How exactly do you save “Irish” jobs by allowing a southern retailer to make an exorbitant profit on a bottle of Irish gin?
Indeed, the lower prices charged in Newry for “Irish” products probably means that more of these products are sold and more jobs created in “Ireland” (wherever that is). No person on this island should have the slightest guilt about shopping in any town in their own country. An attempt to encourage a boycott of Northern retail outlets would only encourage the present exploitation of southern consumers at a time when they are most vulnerable. – Yours, etc,
As a matter of interest actually, has anyone been caught unawares by their “civic patriotism” and found themselves spending uncontrollably around the streets of Dublin? Have the early Christmas lights and trees tricked you into doing your Christmas shopping earlier?