An end to Northern Irish banknotes..?

COULD the fallout from the Northern Rock fiasco lead to the demise of Northern Irish banknotes? See below the fold to find out why we might be saying goodbye to our local Sterling notes…Banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland produce their own Sterling notes, but SNP leader Alex Salmond fears they could disappear if Treasury proposals to protect customer from failing financial institutions go ahead.

Apparently, banks that print Scottish notes have to lodge funds with the Bank of England to cover their value, but only for three days of the week – the other four days they can be invested elsewhere, gaining millions of pounds in interest. The Treasury wants to see them lodged there all week instead.

In the wake of the Chancellor’s announcement of reforms, Clydesdale Bank admitted it might stop issuing Scottish banknotes, as they might not “be viable in the future”. I can’t imagine any of the local banks wanting to give up these millions either. Salmond reckons the changes could cost the Scottish and Northern Irish banks which issue their own notes a total of £100 million a year.

In response, a Scottish Labour MP has called for the Bank of England to be renamed the Bank of the United Kingdom and for United Kingdom banknotes to be introduced as legal tender.

This would certainly bring an end to the confused look of English retailers when you hand them a Bank of Ireland (Sterling) banknote, and the annoyance of the customer when his legal tender is inevitably refused.

However, another Scottish Labour MP might disagree – former Northern Ireland minister Des Browne told the House of Commons recently that he has “been in London a great deal over the past 11 years, and in connection with my ministerial responsibilities have periodically had Northern Ireland banknotes in my wallet. No one has ever refused to accept one of them”.

Yer arse, Des! So have I, and I can’t remember the last time one was accepted.

  • Crataegus

    For God sake get rid of the dam things, a real pain for anyone who travels back and forward to Britain.

    I couldn’t care less if it costs the local Banks money, I don’t want monopoly money. A pocket full of Euros are of more use.

    And I couldn’t care less if it is called the Bank of England, United Kingdom or the Bank of Threadneedle Street. I want money I can use.

  • Jimmy

    Yes get rid of it. Either replace it with Bank of England or Euro notes.
    No one will take it outside Norn Iron because its only worth half its value, the other half is backed up by the B,o,E for use here.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    As a NI ex-pat on the mainland I have to agree and say get rid of the notes, one note for all is much more sensible. However, unlike Gonzo I have never had a NI note refused in my part of England (maybe it’s the “Don’t mess with me, it’s legal tender” look I give when I hand it over) even at the height of the Northern Bank affair.

    Good God, I agree with Des Browne – another first!

    Stand up for your rights Gonzo! If they don’t take it go somewhere else, I guarantee the next guy will.

  • Valenciano

    “This would certainly bring an end to the confused look of English retailers when you hand them a Bank of Ireland (Sterling) banknote, and the annoyance of the customer when his legal tender is inevitably refused.”

    But the problem is that they aren’t legal tender. The only legal tender in England and Wales is Bank of England notes. Shopkeepers are perfectly within their rights to refuse them but they’d have to be stupid to do so.

    They should scrap the things as they’re usually worthless outside the UK, although a couple of currency exchanges here give 80% of the usual exchange rate for Scottish pounds – a poor deal.

  • willowfield

    Yer arse, Des! So have I, and I can’t remember the last time one was accepted.

    In my experience, NI notes are now accepted more often than they are refused. I put this down to the increase in travel between NI and GB as a result of cheap air fares.

    Disappointing to read the sourpusses above complaining about the NI notes: they are distinctive and interesting and should be retained. Same applies to the Scottish notes.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘As a NI ex-pat on the mainland’

    where you from, Rathlin?

  • “In my experience, NI notes are now accepted more often than they are refused. I put this down to the increase in travel between NI and GB as a result of cheap air fares.”

    I’d have thought it had more to do with the Republic joining the Euro so less chance of our notes being confused for Punts (even though they had Stering written on them!).

  • Comrade Stalin

    Thanks for that interesting article, Gonzo. I had no idea why banks here in NI would go to the expense of producing and circulating their own notes. Now I know.

    The local notes cause nothing but problems. People moving around the UK can’t be guaranteed that they’ll be accepted everywhere. People travelling to the UK will have difficulties when they try to exchange their remaining funds when they return home. There is no particular reason for the situation to continue, and I’m not at all clear about why Salmond thinks it’s this is a bad thing.

    Valenciano:

    But the problem is that they aren’t legal tender. The only legal tender in England and Wales is Bank of England notes. Shopkeepers are perfectly within their rights to refuse them but they’d have to be stupid to do so.

    What’s interesting is that in NI and possibly also in Scotland, no banknotes are actually legal tender. AFAIK, the only legal tender is the one pound coin.

    In my travels to England I generally don’t have problems with NI notes, although sometimes it happens. They definitely won’t accept those wonderful plastic Northern Bank notes, sadly.

  • Paul

    Exactly RepublicanStones, the level of indoctrination people show by misusing the term ‘mainland’ is depressing.

  • DC

    Our local banks have ripped us off for years, why the love for them?

    Bank of England notes makes sense and the thought of local banks making more money from other sources is enough to call a halt to it, especially when they dont pass it down to customer level.

  • Joe Holt

    A good case for Eurus

  • PaulM

    About time – scrap em, and rename the Bank of England while you’re at it!

  • JohnF

    RepublicStones and Paul – you are pathetic – grow up and get out of your Republican fairyland – you know fine rightly what ‘mainland’ means.

  • lib2016

    As long as unionists insist on calling a nearby off-shore island ‘the mainland’ they encourage their young people to leave for educational and other purposes. Many of these young people don’t return which is a drain on NI. Although it might be politically useful in the short term for a nationalist to support the drift away of the most go-ahead part of the unionist population in fact it is bad for us all in the long term. Why do unionists persist in encouraging such damage to their own community?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    As any unionist who’s moved to GB will tell you, the name itself has nothing to do with it.

  • hurdy gurdy man

    But the problem is that they aren’t legal tender. The only legal tender in England and Wales is Bank of England notes. Shopkeepers are perfectly within their rights to refuse them…

    For the record, shopkeepers are perfectly within their rights to refuse any banknotes – legal tender or otherwise. Though I think if you’re settling a debt with the shopkeeper, he, or she, would be obliged to accept payment if it is offered in legal tender.

  • RepublicanStones

    mainland….LMAO as if Ireland is an island off britain or england. cut the apron strings guys will ya, better yet how about starting with the umbilical cord.

  • PeaceandJustice

    What about adopting a system like they have for Euro coins i.e. allowing bank notes to be printed in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales with their regional variations with the other side being common to the ‘Bank of the UK’? It would take some effort to make the changes. But it would make sense to have a single ‘currency’ for the UK.

    In England it always takes some explanation before the NI notes are accepted. Also, the large amount of foreign workers mean it’s unlikely someone from Eastern Europe or the Indian sub-continent will understand the complexities of the UK system. They don’t want to risk losing their job by accepting notes they have never seen before.

  • Paul

    John F, I do know exactly what the mainland is, i live on it !

  • Comrade Stalin

    PeaceandJustice, that’s actually a really good idea.

  • The Pict

    Irish and Scottish banknotes are not legal tender but acceptable notes.

  • Biff1

    Comrade Stalin

    Could you please explain about &1;coins being the only legal tender.
    I had an interesting run in with the rates collection agency once , when I turned up with &500;in in individual £20 value bags coins as part of a payment for my rates bill , which they refused to take .
    So I asked for a letter stating that I had come to pay my bill , but as they had a policy of £20 ceiling on amount of coins that they accepted they could not accept my offer of payment .
    When I explained that I intended to let them take me to court ,and I was looking forward with interest as to how the judge would view things they quickly changed their minds ,and took the coins .
    Needless to say that was the way they got it on every occasion after that!.

    Civil servants , but sometimes not so civil !.
    Biff 1
    .

  • happy lundy

    I like P&J;’s idea too but what should be the unifying side?

    I don’t mind Elizabeth but I don’t really want a pocket full of Prince Charles.

    How about buildings? A picture of the Old Lady on one side and the local assemblies on the other?

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Oh me oh my, what a can of worms! So once again we’re subjected to the unreconstructed chuckies getting their knickers in a twist over a turn of phrase. Freudian slip or a hastily written riposte to Gonzo’s assertion that NI banknotes were “inevitably” refused on “the mainland”, I dunno and I’m not that bothered to be honest. Anyway, I’m observing that it’s not inevitable, so there!

    RS and Paul

    I wouldn’t use the term “pathetic”. I would say that it’s Irish people like you, the small minded, little islander types that were one reason this Irishman was not crying on the boat when leaving his homeland in the first place. You and the piece of rock you call home are geographically, economically and culturally inextricably linked to the larger island nearby whether you like it or not. Grow up.

    lib2016

    You’ve assumed way too much. This brain was not drained due to the naming terminology of your nearest neighbour or because of some political or community affiliation I may or may not have to GB – to quote someone, it’s the economy, stupid! GB, the mainland, England, whatever is attractive to young NI academics and professionals because of the opportunities in employment and a better standard of life that GB affords them as opposed to home. That’s young people from both communities in NI and ROI by the way. Gonzo’s right on this one – the name has nothing to do with it. It also helps that you don’t have to be careful with what you say over here lest some Shinner (or loyalist for that matter) jump down your throat for passing remark without clearing it with the Equality Commission first!

    Have I damaged the unionist community? Not directly as I’m not one. Indirectly yes, just as I’ve damaged the nationalist community. I’m not an ego maniac but I think I’ve damaged both communities by my and my family’s leaving, you don’t get to benefit from the marvellous grammar and university education I received at home, I’m putting it to good use somewhere else. Am I planning on coming home? You’re right, I’m not. Never say never but the comments not by you but your republican brethren remind me not of why I left but why I wouldn’t return (i think it has someting to do with “inclusivity”). You don’t need me to keep the Irish question running or any go-ahead unionists or nationalists for that matter – the stay behind varieties of both communities can keep that going indefinitely.

    Another first – good idea P&J;.

  • RepublicanStones

    one reason this Irishman was not crying on the boat when leaving his homeland in the first place-esmeraldavillalobos

    what sort of Irishman thinks his country to be merely an Island of a country across the sea???????

    ‘(i think it has someting to do with “inclusivity”)’

    yeah something unionists have never been well versed in.

    Once more for the back of the class……Im irish, there is no other mainland. using the term mainland illustrates the little colonial mindset still bubbling away in many minds. you can uncircle the wagons boys….and cut the strings !

  • esmereldavillalobos

    …and the mask slips even further…

  • RepublicanStones

    great retort.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Well your argument seems to go “esme, you referred to GB once as the mainland, therefore you’re not Irish.”

    As debating positions go, it’s not great is it?

    I’m comfortable with my heritage, you seem to be very threatened by other viewpoints.

    If you wanted to debate the substance of the rest of my post, I’d be happy to oblige but I think you’d better leave that to the brains of the outfit, lib or Chris or someone. Go back to the pub and your rebel songs and Orga mates and leave the debating to the grown-ups eh?

  • esmereldavillalobos

    That should of course be Ogra.

  • Crataegus

    Joe Holt

    A good case for Eurus.

    Roll on the day, even better in my opinion, I do a fair bit of traveling and for this and business reasons the Euro would suit me nicely.

  • RepublicanStones

    where did i say your not irish?????
    i merely question the wisdom of saying your an irishman but then claiming Ireland isn’t your mainland?
    it seems it is you who feels threatened. and im not a big drinker, actaully off the devil’s buttermilk for lent. and as regards brains…..saying your irish, but its not your mainland aint very smart is it?

    uncircle the wagons and cut the strings.

    P.S never had much time for those Ogra fellows…..too rowdy !

  • lib2016

    The mainland is Europe and the wider world beckons our youth on to further awe and wonder. I’m all for travel to the point where if there was a way to make it compulsory I could be convinced but to tie ourselves and out children to two remote islands on the edge of a part of the world which will never again reach the heights it has in the past? It seems crazy to me.

    I suppose it’s good that other cultures are coming here at last but can’t help feeling that it would be better for us to see Arab or other cultures in their home setting. The incredible anti-Muslim feeling on some threads would make anyone who has met Arab generosity and honesty in their own homes weep.

    The tiny little disagreement between two practically identical groups here is taken out of all proportion partly just because we have been so monocultural.

  • happy lundy

    The “brain drain” is probably about university selection as much as anything. We certainly had a “mainland” attitude to this in my day . The UCCA and PCAS (yes that old) processes completely dominated the system – I can’t remember anything in the careers room referring potential candidates to ROI universities. Some adventurous types made it to Trinity but I don’t know anyone who went to UCD, Cork or Galway.

    Anybody have any idea what the current situation is? Are we doing more nowadays to make more prospective university students aware of Irish options?

  • joeCanuck

    “’m all for travel to the point where if there was a way to make it compulsory I could be convinced”

    Young folks are crazy not to take a gap year between leaving school/college/university and starting work.

  • Kevin

    “John F, I do know exactly what the mainland is, i live on it !”

    What, you live in France, or the Netherlands or something?

  • Diluted Orange

    Get rid of the Northern Irish notes. I live on the mainland too and it does my head in every-time; feeling almost like a criminal as the shop assistant in question pores over this strange note I’ve given her and has to call up the manager to see if she can accept it.

    The day I feel sorry for any of the banks cos they aren’t making as much money as they used to is the day I cease breathing. For instance, the Bank of Scotland and the Ulster Bank have made a packet out their entitlement to literally print money – e.g. the fortunes they each amassed from the sale of George Best and Jack Nicklaus fivers – where essentially they printed images on some worthless bits of paper and charged the public £5 each for them – knowing full well that a very small percentage of those notes will ever actually be exchanged for goods and services, thus making the banks a tidy wee profit for doing very little.

  • miss fitz

    From the Bank of England website, apropos the substance of the main debate,as opposed to the MOPEing.

    Are Scottish & Northern Irish notes legal tender?
    In short ‘No’ these notes are not legal tender; only Bank of England notes are legal tender but only in England and Wales.
    The term legal tender does not in itself govern the acceptability of banknotes in transactions. Whether or not notes have legal tender status, their acceptability as a means of payment is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved. Legal tender has a very narrow technical meaning in relation to the settlement of debt. If a debtor pays in legal tender the exact amount he owes under the terms of a contract, he has good defence in law if he is subsequently sued for non-payment of the debt. In ordinary everyday transactions, the term ‘legal tender’ has very little practical application.

  • Comrade Stalin

    People who get all uptight about words like “mainland” or “the North” really need to get the hell out and get themselves a life. I use both terms all the time. For god’s sake get over it.

    Could you please explain about &1;coins being the only legal tender.

    Not much to explain. Only £1 coins are legal tender. In other words, any creditor in Northern Ireland or Scotland can lawfully refuse to accept anything other than £1 coins in settlement of a debt.

    I had an interesting run in with the rates collection agency once , when I turned up with &500;in in individual £20 value bags coins as part of a payment for my rates bill , which they refused to take .

    I am not a lawyer, but based on the concept of legal tender, they broke the law, and you could have sued them in court and won.

    So I asked for a letter stating that I had come to pay my bill , but as they had a policy of £20 ceiling on amount of coins that they accepted they could not accept my offer of payment .

    Strictly speaking, not lawful, AFAIK.

    When I explained that I intended to let them take me to court ,and I was looking forward with interest as to how the judge would view things they quickly changed their minds ,and took the coins .
    Needless to say that was the way they got it on every occasion after that!.

    Yeah. You may think you’re being a smartarse, but in practice some employee in the rates collection agency is having to count all your money and lodge it. That employee is paid out of the NI budget .. so, in the wider scheme of things, you’re screwing the taxpayer. Why don’t you stop being a jerk and settle your rates bills the way normal people do ? Take your coins to the fecking bank like most people do. It’s less effort for you and the RCA.

    I don’t mind Elizabeth but I don’t really want a pocket full of Prince Charles.

    happy lundy, I think most countries in the world have images of present or past heads of state on their coinage, and I don’t see this changing here.

  • happy lundy

    “I think most countries in the world have images of present or past heads of state on their coinage, and I don’t see this changing here.”

    Really?

    When did/does Ronald Reagan appear on the US dollar?

    Or De Gaulle on the French euro?

    Or Kohl on the German euro?

    How about a bit of imagination?

    Elizabeth is also Queen of Canada.

    She makes it into one side of one note.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banknotes_of_the_Australian_dollar

  • Michael Shilliday

    I think I’m right in saying that BoE notes aren’t the only legal tender – I think that stamps and postal orders are too.

  • happy lundy

    “Elizabeth is also Queen of Canada.”

    Ah…

    I meant Queen of Australia of course…

    Although…

    http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/banknotes/general/character/2001-04_100.html

    Only on one side of one note here also – the $20.

  • picador

    People who get all uptight about words like “mainland” or “the North” really need to get the hell out and get themselves a life. I use both terms all the time. For god’s sake get over it.

    I live in Britain which like Ireland is an island surrounded by the sea. If I wish to travel to the mainland I can go to St Pancras station and get on a train to Paris or Brussels. People who say mainland when referring to Britian spend too much time watching the British Propaganda Service, a.k.a the BBC. London has not, is not and never will be the centre of the universe – no matter what the ex-public school boys and Oxbridge types who inhabit the British establishment may think.

    If I buy something at Aldergrove before flying back to the land of Sasana I tell the cashier to forget the Mickey Mouse money and give me pictures of the Queen for i can’t get enough of this lady in my wallet.

  • Crataegus

    esmereldavillalobos

    You have my utter sympathy.

    I don’t think many of them realise just how petty they sound with their mantras, hang ups and pet phrases which mean lots to them (and woe is you if you misuse them) and bugger all to virtually the rest of humanity. Could the behavour be termed psychotic or is it some deeply ingrained inferiority complex? Wish they would all join the flat earth society.

    We all know what you mean, and I for one feel in no way insulted or demeaned. It is merely a form of expression inoffensively meant but our proud Irish lads have to take offense just to show they are awake.

    I think they should travel more.

  • Comrade Stalin

    When did/does Ronald Reagan appear on the US dollar?

    I very carefully said “past or present heads of state”. US coins all have former heads of state on them, and I think the banknotes do too.

    Or De Gaulle on the French euro?

    Or Kohl on the German euro?

    How about a bit of imagination?

    Beatrix is on the Dutch euro. None of the above two countries have monarchies 🙂

    Elizabeth is also Queen of Canada.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Comrade Stalin (to Biff1) – “Why don’t you stop being a jerk and settle your rates bills the way normal people do ? Take your coins to the fecking bank like most people do. It’s less effort for you and the RCA.”

    Hear Hear! Can you imagine the frustration of other people waiting to pay their bills when ‘Metal Mickey’ turns up with his coins!

  • happy lundy

    “Elizabeth is also Queen of Canada.”

    Thank-you Comrade. Knew that – but as I’d linked to Australia’s currency it seemed a bit irrelevant in the first comment.

    Which is why I linked to Canada in the second.

    Just wanted to show that other dominions are able to afford the monarchy an appropriate amount of respect (in currency decoration terms) as part of their constitution (dignified or otherwise) without entirely smothering their currency with royalist kitsch.

  • BonarLaw

    Dear God, P&J;has cracked it. The Bank of England becomes the UK Central Bank or UK Issuing Authority and the notes get regionalised in exactly the same way the £1.00 coins are- I’ve never had a NI coin rejected anywhere in the rest of the country. One common side with the monarch and regionalism run riot on the other. The devolved institutions on £5’s (Stormont, Holyrood, Senedd) landmarks on £10’s (Giants’ Causeway, Aurthurs’ Seat, Gower) etc, etc.

    Any thoughts on a fistfull of “Juniors”?

  • PaulM

    PeaceandJustice’s idea seems like a good starter. How about we get a petition up on http://petitions.pm.gov.uk to get this mickey mouse money out of circulation?

  • The__Raven

    Sorry – coming a bit late to this – I’ve never allowed a retailer in the UK to turn down a Northern Irish note.

    That is to say, I’ve never lost a stand-off…

    🙂

  • foreign correspondent

    The answer to the problem is obvious and hardly anyone has mentioned it here – join the euro as soon as possible.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    I don’t think I’ve had a NI note knocked back in England any time in the last 10 years. A family friend had some difficulty in a supermarket in Cheltenham, but it was some time in the early ’80s – she stood her ground, the manager was called, he called the police, and when he arrived the sergeant suggested the supermarket take the perfectly adequate form of payment before he did the manager for wasting police time…

  • No Mope Here

    For you information the northern pound coin has been rejected before.

    Some hard working politician decided to have a mope that there was no coin to represent northern Ireland so the coin with the flax plant was replaced by one with the Celtic cross from Ardboe.

    This was asked to be got rid of in another mope but fortunately someone listened to the Treasury on the second occasion and there was

  • Ulster McNulty

    “Yer arse, Des! So have I”

    Absolutely, that sounds like complete ballix.

    In recent years things have got better in England, I think it’s due to the Euro. English people who handle money should now be aware that these notes have got to be sterling as the the rest of the neighbours all use the Euro – if they don’t know they shouldn’t really be handling money. Ignorance is no excuse, but ignorance is the problem – many English just aren’t used to seeing these notes.

    The worst that happened to me was arriving late one night at Victoria bus station, only had NI notes – mostly useless in London then. Thomas Cook, the bastards, charged me, a poor student, commission and exchange as if on punts. I really tried my best persuade it was sterling

    Ironically, in my experience, NI notes were often not excepted in Scotland then either, the reason I smile when I hear Scots complaining.

  • eranu

    theres no point in making changes to sterling. it’ll only be a couple of general elections before the UK goes into the euro along with all the other non euro countries. waste of time and effort.

  • DK

    Cash is going the way of cheques – soon to be a minor footnote in payments history.

    And if the UK does take the Euro, will there be anything left to tell the 2 bits of ireland apart from one another or the “mainland”?

  • “Just wanted to show that other dominions are able to afford the monarchy an appropriate amount of respect (in currency decoration terms) as part of their constitution (dignified or otherwise) without entirely smothering their currency with royalist kitsch.”

    Happy, I don’t know if you’re already aware or not, but HM’s picture is also on the heads side of all Canadian coins, just like here.

  • Valenciano

    “Thomas Cook, the bastards, charged me, a poor student, commission and exchange as if on punts. I really tried my best persuade it was sterling”

    Things haven’t changed a great deal since. When I was there last Summer Thomas Cook in Donegall Place were charging a 3 quid commission for changing NI bank notes to Bank of England notes!

  • eranu

    dk, i live in dublin now and when i go on holiday changing money is just not something i think about. whatever euros i have in my wallet i spend when i get to where im going, and whatever i have left on the last day of a holiday comes back and i use at home. theres none of that running around trying to get rid of your last cash, like in the olden days! its funny to watch my mates from belfast having to change money and travellers cheques. it seems sooo 1980s… being able to tell if your being ripped off or not is also a great help. i remember being none too pleased when the bill for 2 bottles of beer in paris came to 18 euros. i think i saw a bar menu beside notre dame for a pint of lager at 16 euros also..
    luckily most europeans speak english so its all down to the weather to tell that you’re on holiday!

    the UK and ROI in the euro will be the end of any difference between the 2 countries. it’ll also be the end of anyone in the UK thinking they’re not really part of europe too.

  • Valenciano

    Eranu maybe you need to go a bit further afield than Benidorm next holiday? Most Europeans don’t speak English and AFAIK most EU countries don’t use the Euro – 13 out of 27 currently do? I’ve been to all but one of the 14 who don’t and have never had to worry about being ripped off – the Latvian Lat is virtually one for one with the British pound and when I nip over the border into Lithuania it’s five lita for one pound, again a relatively simple calculation.

    The people who do get ripped off here in Riga are usually the sex tourists who go to the seediest dives imaginable.

  • BonarLaw

    eranu

    before you book for this summer can I recommend North America. Mind you with three currencies and none of them the Euro you probably wouldn’t be interested- all that running around trying to get rid of your cash.

  • PaddyReilly

    I was attempting to make a purchase this afternoon but was delayed by some idiot with numismatic interests who stopped to examine the 50p he was handing over. They keep producing new designs on the tails side, you see. Money really ought to be boring and predictable.

    Northern Ireland and Scottish notes can be used in London but you have to make sure the person you are trying to pass them off on is English and over a certain age: a rarity these days. Our tinted brethren and most Europeans behave as if it was monopoly money you were trying to pay them with. Roll on the Euro for all: keep the Litts and Latts for sex-tourists.

    However, I will say that British currency is better designed: with the funny shaped 50p and 20p its harder to mistake one coin for another.

  • eranu

    valenciano, benidorm eh? much too exotic for my tastes 🙂 im only saying its alot easier to go on holiday in euro countries when everyones using the same money. i was thinking of city breaks ive been on in france and spain recently. although i do remember paying for some things in euros in ljubljana years before slovenia joined the euro (think its in now).
    in europe ive only really been in the western countries. most people ive come across have enough english to give me what i want in a shop or give me directions. thats what i meant. but all the eastern european immigrants ive met in dublin speak atleast a bit of english. you’d have to admit its the language people communicate with? you must have seen different nationalities speaking english to each other while travelling?
    im glad your maths skills are such that you can work out that 3 lats is about the same as 3 pounds. you da man ! 🙂 alot of those non euro countries are gagging to get into the euro. its only a matter of time. theres no point in the UK staying out in the long run.

    bonarlaw, north america 3 currencies? sounds like id have to start spending flippin great wads of cash from the first day there !

  • foreign correspondent

    I totally agree with Eranu about the many advantages of the euro. I live in another part of the Eurozone – Spain – and I find the euro to be very, very useful. It just pains me that my city of origin, Derry, is a couple of miles on the wrong side of the Eurozone border so when I go home it´s back to those annoying 2ps and 25 different types of banknote, none of which fit in your wallet properly…
    By the way the Euro is the majority currency of the EU since last month when Cyprus and Malta joined. Slovenia joined the club last year so that makes 15 out of 27. Slovakia is looking likely to join next year and all of the 2004 and 2007 accession states have to join it at some point – that was made a condition of the accession agreements.
    Only the UK and Denmark have indefinite optout clauses while Sweden doesn´t have such an optout but is making no effort to make itself euro-compliable, while the Commission looks on in silence.
    I am not as optimistic as Eranu that the UK will join the euro soon. And while they stay out of the club Gordon Brown has no right to call meetings with Merkel and Sarkozy where he pretends to be one of Europe´s leaders, nor does Blair have any right to be considered for President of Europe.
    Finally, is it legal for bureaux de change like the one in Aldergrove to charge commission to change one form of sterling to another? What a sick joke, IMHO!

  • Valenciano

    Eranu, about English, the more touristy cities yes, go anywhere off the beaten track and standards start to slip badly. Standard of spoken English in Valencia is crap as until relatively recently tourists just didn’t go there. Obviously all the East European immigrants in Ireland speak English, but they’re hardly typical. It’s the concept that, before you move to a country, you learn at least the basics of the language. A concept which Brits and Irish just can’t seem to get.

    They all do want to join the Euro yes, but in many cases their economies are so far up the brown creek that it’ll be at least five years before they get there. Latvia was due to join at the beginning of 2007 but the head of the Latvian bank recently announced 2013 as the new target date and with inflation near 15%, even that’s starting to look optimistic.

    In general I don’t see what the problem with different currencies is. Part of the fun of travelling is going to places where they do stuff differently, not places where they speak the same language and spend the same money.

  • Valenciano

    Foreign correspondent, I’d also be interested in the legality of the charging commission to change one type of sterling for another. Thomas Cook in the centre of Belfast are doing it to all those stupid people who haven’t realised that there’s a Bank of England sterling cash point just round the corner in front of City Hall.

  • Jimmy

    The problem with the Euro is that it is tied to all the old currencys value, hence the euro is rounded up in cost to the value of the old currency, one cant help feeling ripped off when using it, its a rip off. I hear as many people from the south complaing about it. Proper sterling is best for NI, a little inconveniance changing over but thats nothing and of course I can use my Credit and Debit card in the Euro zone cash machines dispensing as much Euros as I want. Its easy and its not the big inconveniance a lot of people are harping on about.

  • eranu

    jimmy, its just that it makes things easier by removing another level of complexity that having different currencies creates. i can walk into a shop in paris and get a ham and cheese bagette and a can of coke. i can see the price in the same currency i use at home and i have it in my pocket. i can quickly look round the shop and judge the prices of things and then get a few bits and pieces for a cheap lunch before heading off sightseeing. or i can get a taxi back to the hotel after a night out in barcelona without worrying about being ripped off. theres none of that handing over a big foreign note and hoping that the notes and coins i get back are right.

    the sooner the UK joins the euro the better. its a pain for me to have 2 wallets. one for belfast sterling and one for dublin euros.

  • One time I had £30 in Northern Ireland notes in my wallet for months, and on a weekend trip to Birmingham was determined to get shot of them. No shop would accept them, so when a large group of us went for dinner in a local restaurant, I put them into the pot for my share of the bill. Unfortunately, whoever calculated the sharing out of the bill had made a mistake, and we had paid £30 too much.

    Needless to say, the £30 that came back were the three NI tenners I had put in. Then we realised we hadn’t left a tip, so back they went.

    Result!

  • Shamed by declining educational standards!

    Of course you could not persuade them that that funny coloured paper was Sterling because it was only funny coloured paper which can be accepted as money in Northern Ireland.

  • George

    Valeciano,
    They all do want to join the Euro yes, but in many cases their economies are so far up the brown creek that it’ll be at least five years before they get there. Latvia was due to join at the beginning of 2007 but the head of the Latvian bank recently announced 2013 as the new target date and with inflation near 15%, even that’s starting to look optimistic.

    There is no choice here. The 10 accession countries have to join the euro. It was a prerequisite for EU membership.

    Slovenia joined at the start of 2007 and Malta and Cyprus at the start of 2008 bringing it up to 15 out of 27. Slovakia is expected to join in 2009 while Estonia and Lithuania are looking at 2010 and 2011.

    Even Latvia, like the others, is already pegged to the euro.

  • Valenciano

    George I know all that, since I make a point of changing surplus lats for euros every month (though recently I’ve bought pounds instead due to the strong euro.) One thing that I have noticed is that exchange rates here are good due to lots of competition, whereas they’re really dire in Belfast.

    The problem for euro membership in the newer countries is that many of them have passed the planned dates by a long way. The Latvian economy really is screwed with high inflation, considerable outmigration and a seriously overheated housing market, with flat prices nearing the 100k mark (sterling) but median monthly salaries still around the 300-350 mark.

    As you know, while they have to join, they also have to meet the criteria first and it’s looking like at least five years before that will happen. Poland is in an even worse situation since to the above mix can be added high unemployment. Riga effectively has negative unemployment and has had to import workers from Romania, Ukraine and Belarus.

  • joeCanuck

    Does anyone else remember the old Scottish fivers. Thin white paper the size of a baby’s bedsheet.

  • Oiliféar

    I always forget about the Northern Ireland notes any time I visit the North and enter a state of complete panic at the bank machine (my bureau do change) on being presented with various shades and sizes of monopoly money. I have to force myself to trust that it came out of a machine and so is unlikely to be ripping me off … but am still amazed whenever anyone accepts it! That said, this is something very endearing about the UK, a real throw back to remind us where money came from and what it means.

    Like Peace and Justice suggestion, I too think that regionalised currency is the solution. The really big problem, in my opinion, is not that Northern Ireland has its own notes, but that it has so many of its own notes! Compromising on a three – or four if Wales does the same- variations issued, or at least stamped, by genuine authorities (Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank just don’t do it for me because I can tell the difference between them and the Bank of England) would make life a lot easier.

    “the UK and ROI in the euro will be the end of any difference between the 2 countries. it’ll also be the end of anyone in the UK thinking they’re not really part of europe too.”

    I don’t see the UK joining the Euro any time soon. Denmark and Sweden will do it first, and I don’t see any signs from them. In Northern Ireland a land border is shared with the Eurozone so people in the North are at a better advantage for seeing the Euro in action. On the UK mainland the island mindset is allowed free-run, if peninsula counties on the (actual) mainland can avoid joining then the UK, I think, could manage to not-see-the-point forever.

    That said, like eranu hints at, having the European currency in your pocket has a very strong psychological effect. Suddenly, you are very aware that 317 million other Europeans share this money and, like you, they are intimately concerned about what the European economy is up. By staying out, the UK can stick its head in the sand but if they joined that would all change.