Frontline: “Cheaper diesel is still pulling a bit of northern trade in this direction”
Michael Geraghty, Secretary, Cavan Chamber of Commerce
Travel agent Michael Geraghty says that there is a measurable Brexit impact on trading in Cavan town, but it has to be seen in the context of previous currency swings and the long, slow recovery from the downturn of 2007-09.
“There is a definite trigger point for people to go north to shop when the exchange rate hits 85p to the Euro. We can be thankful that cheaper diesel is still pulling a bit of northern trade in this direction, towards the communities in the north of the county. And I think we have managed to create better value in our towns over recent years, particularly when families are shopping for food, and people realise that.
“But we can’t escape the impact and it will continue because of the basic things we produce in this part of the world – milk, beef, poultry including ducks, and mushrooms. On the other hand, our people are resilient and the border communities came through a lot over the last few decades.
“Whatever about the position in England, Brexit seems to contradict just about everything we know about the way our whole economic development has been going on the island of Ireland. The whole world has long regarded us as a single economic entity, and over the last 20 years or so we have tied ourselves closer together as a single trading entity. I listened to British Prime Minister Theresa May last week and EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici this week, and it is a grim prospect. The whole idea of tariffs and the return of customs checks on the border is horrific and will cause havoc.”
However, there is no reason to believe that the impact will be comparable to the downturn of a decade ago, he says. “From what I am hearing, the town had a reasonably good Christmas season. And I always remember the tour of the town centre that we undertook on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, I think it was the Christmas of 2009. We counted 41 vacant commercial premises in the town. We still have a few but they really only represent the normal property turnover rate. We pulled ourselves back up from those dark days.”
The Frontline Project was carried out by Brexit Border Blog on behalf of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce and Chambers Ireland