independent

Sunday 24 September 2017

New Brexit blog a lifeline for those needing analysis

Seamus Murphy from brexitborder.com
Seamus Murphy from brexitborder.com

Anne Campbell

One of the men behind a new blog on Brexit believes that the full impact of the British decision will have profound and lasting effects on Dundalk.

In an interview with the Argus, former financial journalist, Seamus Murphy, said it is the aim of his colleague, former UTV presenter and MLA, Ferghal McKinney, and him, to bring proper and independent analysis to the issues around the Brexit decision.

Mr Murphy and Mr McKinney's blog, at brexitborder.com provides insights for businesses and those in the community who feel, at times, overwhelmed, by the various permutations that the British decision to leave the EU will have.

Naturally, the effect of Brexit will be most keenly felt in Dundalk and around the border area and over the last couple of months, Mr Murphy has been speaking to retailers and small business owners on the Southern side of the border to gauge their readiness for what Brexit will bring.

His background in financial journalism - he's a former editor of European Banker - is proving crucial in helping the wider public begin to understand the massive impact that Brexit will have in all our lives.

Mr Murphy and his colleague decided to set up the blog in October as they realised that 'a lot of the information coming out about what will happen when Britain leaves the EU was, quite frankly, rubbish'.

And while other journalists provided the bare reportage of what was happening, there was very little analysis of the facts presented.

He said: 'No-one wants a hard border, but sometimes you get things you don't want', Mr Murphy said. 'There are borders for people and there are borders for goods and there is a big difference.

'Dublin and London can make an agreement over the border for people, but the movement of goods is a very different thing.

'If the UK is out of the Customs Union and the Single Market, the sort of border that will exist will be decided by Brussels and thinking it will be any other way is wishful thinking'.

Mr Murphy pointed to the fact that a massive 54% of the cross border trade done in Ireland every year is in the agri-food sector, an area which will attract tariffs when Britain leaves. Those tariffs, he warns, range between 42% and 67%.

There will be 'massive disruption' caused by the imposition of tariffs in this sector in particular.

Added to this is the alarming statistic, from InterTrade Ireland, which shows that 97% of businesses have no Brexit plan.

A number of government agencies are responding to the uncertainty created by Brexit, particularly Bord Bia and the Ecomonic Social Research Institute (ESRI), but far more analysis needs to be done and it is because of this need the brexitborder blog was set up.

There are other little-thought-about consequences of Brexit mentioned by Mr Murphy including the problems that UK headquartered supermarkets like Tesco and Marks and Spencer will face when they have to break up their British-based supply chains to cover their Irish market.

Already, the blog has attracted the interest of the Chambers of Commerce Ireland organisation who have funded a research project where Mr Murphy is travelling around the border areas, from Dundalk to Letterkenny, speaking to small companies and retailers about Brexit and how they view it, what they need to happen.

Already, he is about halfway through. 'The common theme is uncertainty', he said. 'There's a lot of uncertainty about the effect it's going to have on business.

'The other thing that border businesspeople are saying to me is that they are putting off investment plans until things are clearer.

'The Brexit impact has already been felt in the border areas, with firms reporting a drop of between 5% and 12% in turnover from July to December last year'.

Currency fluctuation of around 18% has also buffeted businesses here, while retailers believe that the euro being worth 85 cents is the 'trigger for consumers' to head North.

Mr Murphy said that despite the many difficulties presented to retailers in Dundalk in the second half of last year, many had a better than expected Christmas.

This was, he believes, down to a combination of factors, including Dundalk Chamber of Commerce's Shop Local voucher scheme, but also the fact that the town has been learning lessons from the recession and putting value for money and improved shopping experience, including in the town centre, to the fore.

Mr Murphy said: 'Dundalk has been working at this for five years'.

Mr Murphy would like to hear from anyone interested in Brexit and its effects. As for a time-line from Brexit theory to Brexit reality, it could be ten years, he says.

The blog is at brexitborder.com and the email address is seamus@brexitborder.com.

One of the men behind a new blog on Brexit believes that the full impact of the British decision will have profound and lasting effects on Dundalk.

In an interview with the Argus, former financial journalist, Seamus Murphy, said it is the aim of his colleague, former UTV presenter and MLA, Ferghal McKinney, and him, to bring proper and independent analysis to the issues around the Brexit decision.

Mr Murphy and Mr McKinney's blog, at brexitborder.com provides insights for businesses and those in the community who feel, at times, overwhelmed, by the various permutations that the British decision to leave the EU will have.

Naturally, the effect of Brexit will be most keenly felt in Dundalk and around the border area and over the last couple of months, Mr Murphy has been speaking to retailers and small business owners on the Southern side of the border to gauge their readiness for what Brexit will bring.

His background in financial journalism - he's a former editor of European Banker - is proving crucial in helping the wider public begin to understand the massive impact that Brexit will have in all our lives.

Mr Murphy and his colleague decided to set up the blog in October as they realised that 'a lot of the information coming out about what will happen when Britain leaves the EU was, quite frankly, rubbish'.

And while other journalists provided the bare reportage of what was happening, there was very little analysis of the facts presented.

He said: 'No-one wants a hard border, but sometimes you get things you don't want', Mr Murphy said. 'There are borders for people and there are borders for goods and there is a big difference.

'Dublin and London can make an agreement over the border for people, but the movement of goods is a very different thing.

'If the UK is out of the Customs Union and the Single Market, the sort of border that will exist will be decided by Brussels and thinking it will be any other way is wishful thinking'.

Mr Murphy pointed to the fact that a massive 54% of the cross border trade done in Ireland every year is in the agri-food sector, an area which will attract tariffs when Britain leaves. Those tariffs, he warns, range between 42% and 67%.

There will be 'massive disruption' caused by the imposition of tariffs in this sector in particular.

Added to this is the alarming statistic, from InterTrade Ireland, which shows that 97% of businesses have no Brexit plan.

A number of government agencies are responding to the uncertainty created by Brexit, particularly Bord Bia and the Ecomonic Social Research Institute (ESRI), but far more analysis needs to be done and it is because of this need the brexitborder blog was set up.

There are other little-thought-about consequences of Brexit mentioned by Mr Murphy including the problems that UK headquartered supermarkets like Tesco and Marks and Spencer will face when they have to break up their British-based supply chains to cover their Irish market.

Already, the blog has attracted the interest of the Chambers of Commerce Ireland organisation who have funded a research project where Mr Murphy is travelling around the border areas, from Dundalk to Letterkenny, speaking to small companies and retailers about Brexit and how they view it, what they need to happen.

Already, he is about halfway through. 'The common theme is uncertainty', he said. 'There's a lot of uncertainty about the effect it's going to have on business.

'The other thing that border businesspeople are saying to me is that they are putting off investment plans until things are clearer.

'The Brexit impact has already been felt in the border areas, with firms reporting a drop of between 5% and 12% in turnover from July to December last year'.

Currency fluctuation of around 18% has also buffeted businesses here, while retailers believe that the euro being worth 85 cents is the 'trigger for consumers' to head North.

Mr Murphy said that despite the many difficulties presented to retailers in Dundalk in the second half of last year, many had a better than expected Christmas.

This was, he believes, down to a combination of factors, including Dundalk Chamber of Commerce's Shop Local voucher scheme, but also the fact that the town has been learning lessons from the recession and putting value for money and improved shopping experience, including in the town centre, to the fore.

Mr Murphy said: 'Dundalk has been working at this for five years'.

Mr Murphy would like to hear from anyone interested in Brexit and its effects. As for a time-line from Brexit theory to Brexit reality, it could be ten years, he says.

The blog is at brexitborder.com and the email address is seamus@brexitborder.com.

The Argus

News