“People are free to travel to Northern Ireland.”

No doubt with his mind on the recently published figures on the activities of Irish shoppers, the BBC have picked up on comments by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, as reported in the Sunday Independent.

Mr Lenihan is confident that the expected ending of the VAT reductions in the UK as well as increased taxes will eliminate the attraction of heading north, but he is not ruling out a move on VAT in the Budget. Speaking about his plans to react appropriately to Britain’s upcoming budget, he said: “We didn’t know last year that the British were bringing down their vat rate, but at least this year the British budget is first, so I will study closely what happens before I make any decision.” But he reiterated the need for Irish shoppers to maintain loyalty to their local businesses: “People are free to travel to Northern Ireland. Just appreciate that, in a very difficult time, any tax you pay is not supporting our State.”