Why Brexit is Northern Ireland’s Greatest Business Opportunity

It’s remarkable how many people – people who have never run a business – have suddenly become business or economic experts since the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. This is especially the case here in Northern Ireland. Few of our politicians (with some notable exceptions) have ever started or run a business. The local Director of the CBI has never run a business.  But the consensus view of these economic ‘experts’ – many of whom campaigned hard for a remain vote in last June’s referendum – is that Brexit spells disaster for Ireland, North and South. They also argue that the UK’s decision to leave the customs union and single market means a hard border etc., and that will result in ruin.

But most businesses in Northern Ireland don’t trade across any borders.  And, for Northern Ireland, Brexit is a once in a lifetime opportunity to take advantage of a revitalised UK, our most important trading partner.

The UK is our biggest trading partner by a vast margin – grossly more important than any EU market.  In fact 86% of sales by Northern Ireland companies stay right here in the UK.

And it is for this reason that Brexit is the biggest opportunity that Northern Ireland has ever had since its inception. Northern Ireland, in short, just got lucky. The UK is a huge market on Northern Ireland’s doorstep. It’s also a free market with no customs checks or borders. And it also happens to have at its heart the world’s largest financial trading centre in the City of London.

Just look at the numbers.

The construction sector here employs around 30,000 people. The manufacturing sector employs around 80,000. Meanwhile the services sector employs close to 600,000 people – dwarfing all other sectors.

Now let’s consider this services employment number. Ask yourself, how many of these people are involved in businesses that trade across the border with the Irish Republic?  The answer – very, very few.

Northern Ireland is a typical, regional, services-based economy. A look at the list of our biggest employers shows that most are UK based services businesses and retailers like Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, the big banks and insurance companies…and call centres.  There are a few big businesses that might do some cross-border trade, like MoyPark. But most don’t. And most of our small and medium businesses – hairdressers, plumbers, bathroom fitters etc. – focus their entire sales and marketing effort on a 20 mile radius of where they are based.

Indeed, the vast majority of our small businesses are one-man/woman bands that engage in precisely no cross-border or international trade.  These businesses are wholly focused on Northern Ireland which is an integral part of the UK’s own single market – the world’s fifth largest economy.  We’re also a member of the UK’s sterling based currency zone (and more about that later).

Our total exports to the Republic of Ireland declined by £143 million last year and amounted to £3.4 Billion. But total sales to Northern Ireland and Great Britain amounted to £57.5 billion or 17 times greater than our sales to RoI.  And, of course, there’s no reason why those sales to Ireland can’t continue post Brexit – we already sell goods to Ireland despite being in a different currency zone and applying different VAT rates.

Recently I attended the all-Island “dialogue” on Brexit in Dublin. The representatives from Northern Ireland (which was exclusively called “the North” at the event, except by representatives of the Irish government) included the local Director of the CBI, various pro-remain political parties and various EU-funded border quangos.  These people gave the impression to the assembled hordes of virtue signallers that most people in Northern Ireland were engaged in trading beef carcases across the Irish border and that a hard border (presented as inevitable) would spell doom for Northern Ireland, Ireland and the peace process.  This analysis is not just flawed – it’s cynical, and wrong.

By comparison, on Tuesday of last week, I attended an evening function in Canary Wharf in London sponsored by Belfast City Council. The event was launching a new Belfast-London business network and was attended by hundreds of business people. Most were London based and most wanted to hear about why Belfast had become such a desirable location for financial services businesses.  The reason is simple. Belfast is much cheaper than London, can provide a better quality of life and has a ready supply of talented people. And if such people can’t be found here there are quite a few professionals based in London very keen to have a life change, avail of cheaper housing and get to walk in the Mournes at the weekend.

It’s not by accident that Belfast has become one of the most important financial services and fintech centres in the UK.  Unlike Dublin we’re in the Sterling zone, our law graduates understand UK common law, and we have a superb digital infrastructure.

That’s why, according to TheCityUK, around 18,000 people in Belfast alone are employed in the sector. Across Northern Ireland more people now work in financial services than work in construction. It’s a key reason why just about every major law firm in the city of London squeezed into the auditorium in Thomson Reuters in London last Tuesday night to hear about the success story that Belfast has become.

The United Kingdom is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is home to the world’s largest financial trading centre.  London’s traders sell twice as many euros as all the countries of the Eurozone combined, and London’s three main clearing houses handle around €1 trillion of euro trades daily. And, of course, the UK isn’t even part of the Eurozone. Such is London’s dominance.

Belfast, and Northern Ireland’s, biggest trading partner is the UK. Thankfully, that will continue to be the case after Brexit. The devaluation of Sterling has had zero impact on our ability to trade with the rest of the UK. But it has seriously spooked Dublin.

In fact, Ireland is facing an existential crisis because of Brexit. Because of the country’s low corporation tax rate Ireland has become disproportionately dependent on foreign direct investment (FDI).  US companies now dominate Ireland’s export trade with pharmaceutical companies exporting huge volumes to the USA and the EU. Pharma products are shipped bulk to Antwerp where they are packed. They’re also shipped to North America. Pharma businesses are attracted to Ireland because of its low corporation tax rates – a competitive advantage now under threat by President Trump and the EU Commission.

Meanwhile Ireland’s indigenous businesses – typically agribusinesses – are highly dependent on the UK market. Since Sterling devalued after the EU Referendum, Ireland exporters have been disproportionately affected.  The UK is Ireland’s second largest trading country after the United States but the UK is by far the most important market for indigenous (non-FDI) businesses.  Meanwhile Northern Ireland based exporters to RoI have benefitted from Sterling devaluation.

In short, few businesses in Northern Ireland will be affected by Brexit. The relatively few businesses that trade across the border are not the businesses that employ the lion’s share of service sector employment. These businesses, in short, are highly dependent on Northern Ireland being part of a huge, growing trading partner that happens to be very international and on our doorstep and it’s called the United Kingdom.

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  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    The irony of somebody complaining about ‘Fake News’ and then providing a link to info Wars is palpable

  • Damien Mullan

    Natural enough Jeff, just as the Republic’s trade with GB is greater than it’s trade relationship with NI, GB after all has a population of 61 million people. On a proportional basis the relationship is stronger north south than east west. NI trade with GB £13.8 billion, population 61 million, now take the Republic, population 4.6 million, lets be generous and say that the UK’s population is 13 times larger than the Republic, yet as you say NI trade with the UK is only 4 times greater than with the Republic, on a proportional basis you would expect a correlation of the same order, i.e. NI trade 13 times greater with the UK than the Republic. But it doesn’t, and why? why of course Ireland north and south is one island, that’s the big why.

  • Damien Mullan

    You know full well that sterling began its decline in the third/fourth quarter of 2015, when Cameron began his re-negotiation.

  • Damien Mullan

    Natural enough. The Republic’s trade relationship is stronger with GB than NI. After all GB has a population of 61 million. On a proportional basis the north south relationship is stronger than the east west for NI. The Republic’s population is 1/13 of the UK’s, yet NI trade with the Republic is only 1/4 of trade with GB. The answer is simple, geography, we our a single island, that’s the explanation.

  • Michael Dowds

    The point is that the cross border trade you’re talking about is not without its problems and is facilitated by sector specific agreements between the respective countries. The EU and US and over 20 such arrangements.

    The UK has given itself 18-24 months to create an entirely new internal market and agree its new trading relationship with the rest of the world. That, simply put, is madness.

    Debate the merits of the EU until your heart is content, but the reckless approach of the Brexit Fanboys in the Tory government is terrifying, IMHO.

  • Michael Dowds

    Our sales to Non-GB regions (incl. NI) are roughly 4x that of sales to GB region.

    I would imagine that most people on this blog are focused primarily (in this thread at least) on Brexit’s impact on NI trade as opposed to UK (as a whole) trade.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Of course the falling value of the £ has massively helped our exports. Hence the massive boost in the value of shares in FTSE companies (most of which are huge exporters). It has also helped border traders, of course, most of whom were opposed to Brexit.

  • Damien Mullan

    Is there a moderator I can contact to explain why my comments are not being added to the threads. It’s a disgrace. I’ve just refuted the comment below, “Our (NI) sales to GB are roughly 4 times that of our sales to RoI.” With this comment, “Natural enough. The Republic’s trade relationship with GB is greater than that with NI. After all GB has a population of 61 million. However, on a proportional basis the relationship is stronger north south than east west for NI. Republic has 1/13 of the population of GB, but yet NI trade with the south is 1/4 of the total of that with GB.” Now there is nothing slanderous about my above post, and I don’t expect to see it deleted again. Can the moderator discover what is going on with my comments being deleted. Or I might just have to conclude that people don’t like a nationalist perspective on Slugger O’Toole, maybe it is indeed a unionist forum and while nationalist perspectives might be tolerated, only in-house nationalists who know their place really will be.

  • Damien Mullan

    “Natural enough. The Republic’s trade relationship with GB is greater than that with NI. After all GB has a population of 61 million. However, on a proportional basis the relationship is stronger north south than east west for NI. Republic has 1/13 of the population of GB, but yet NI trade with the south is 1/4 of the total of that with GB.”

  • Jeffrey Peel

    You would expect Northern Ireland’s trade with GB to be much smaller give that we have a much smaller population than RoI. In fact it’s almost on a par. That’s because we’re in the UK jurisdiction.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    Yes in this case it largely is.

  • Gingray

    As I said Jeff, you have very little connection to the vast majority of people living in Northern Ireland if you think a boost in the value of shares is something worth boasting about while most people face a 20% rise in petrol with no rise in salary.

    Interestingly you boast above about how exports are of less importance to NI, but here talk about the boost – all well and good, but for most of our products, the majority of which stay within the UK, purchasers are now starting to feel the cost of the currency collapse Brexit brought, goods now cost more to ship, and we are seeing that rise in the average cost of a weeks food.

    Not issues that you care about tho, let the little people in the middle and the bottom pay the price for Brexit while the stockbrokers get richer.

  • Damien Mullan

    No your wrong. On a proportional basis, taking count of the population differential between GB and the Republic, you come to the figure of £44.2 billion, by multiplying NI trade with the Republic with the 13 times differential between the population of GB and the Republic. Now £44.2 billion is way off of £13.8 billion. Again, the proportional significance of the trade relationship north south is difficult if not impossible to refute.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    So a boost to NI exports isn’t an advantage? Or a boost in pension values (in most private schemes, linked to the FTSE)? Most business people were of the view that the £ was overvalued prior to the EU referendum. Moreover petrol prices have gone up only partially because of a weak £…crude prices have been rebounding from a very low base.

  • Michael Dowds

    And your response on non-GB sales being 4x more than GB sales?

  • Jeffrey Peel

    That would be “No you’re wrong.” But I’m not, of course. Trade with RoI is tiny. Trade with Britain is huge.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    You mean sales to Northern Ireland? I pointed that out in my post. Sales to the local population. What is your point? Most people here are employed either by the State or by big British companies. Or they are sustained by benefits provided by the UK government. Then they spend money with big British retailers.

  • Fear Éireannach

    This aggregation of trade within NI and trade with GB is just plain misleading. Please stop.

    And the ” It would also result in a diminution of UK sovereignty – against the wishes of the vast majority of the Northern Ireland population” is untrue, in that arrangements which reflect geography are not in themselves a reflection of sovereignty and there is no evidence that a majority of people in NI have any objection to practical arrangements which reflect that NI is on the island of Ireland. Indeed the recent election showed a clear majority voting for parties who support NI having a special customs status, which shows your statement to be nonsense.

  • Damien Mullan

    1/4 of the GB total is tiny is it? The Republic exports 15 times more than NI. That’s huge, if you want a definition of huge. With just over twice the population, the Republic exports 15 times more than NI. That’s where your union has got you. Pardon for the grammar mistake, i’ll proofread from now on like I’m studying for the civil service examination during the Qing dynasty.

  • the moviegoer

    Yes you’re reading it correctly. Fears have been greatly exaggerated. Read the article I’ve linked to which deals specifically with that issue.

  • Michael Dowds

    You’re missing the point.

    You said:

    ‘Our sales to GB are roughly 4 times that of our sales to RoI’

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the implication is that, for Northern Ireland/ The North (I usually never use that term but you REALLY don’t like it for some reason), the GB market is more important than the GB market, no?

    Non-GB sales accounting for 4x GB-sales would, by your logic, imply that, for Northern Ireland/ The North, non-GB sales are more important and should be our focus, no?

    The question is about what impact Brexit will have on NORTHERN IRELAND’S external sales, not the UK’s, not the Island of Ireland or any other combination that can be thought of.

    Trade with GB is important, but trade with elsewhere is more important. What’s your fix? Specifics please, talk of ‘Global Britain’ is nauseous, and I’ve just had lunch.

    You also said:

    ‘Most people here are employed either by the State or by big British companies. Or they are sustained by benefits provided by the UK government. Then they spend money with big British retailers’

    This is irrelevant to the conversation. You should edit the post to delete this paragraph.

  • Damien Mullan

    “Exports totalled €116,916 million in 2016, the highest annual total on record, according to preliminary figures. This is an increase of €4,508 million (+4%) over 2015. Imports in 2016 decreased by €507 million (-1%) to €69,604 million compared with 2015. The preliminary trade surplus for 2016 was €47,312 million.
    The largest increase in exports was of Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances which increased by €4,373 million (+150%) to €7,295 million in 2016 compared with 2015. This was followed by exports of Organic chemicals which increased by €2,168 million (+10%) to €23,664 million.” – CSO – Now Jeff that’s what I call huge. A powerhouse economy which makes this whole island economically viable. Unionist entrepreneurs and industrialists held the mantel in the 19th century of making this island economical viable, that now resides in the greater Dublin region, which virtually encompasses the whole of Leinster. The only real hope for sustainable, indeed, self-sustainable and cyclical proof economic growth perpetuating indefinitely, is to make of Dublin a global metropolitan city. A recession proof engine of economic growth with an insatiable thirst for capital and labour, the seeds are well and truly there, it just needs better planning and vision to be realized. Like moving Dublin Port to Bremore and then developing high rise offices, residential units, and commercial space, to anchor a large population within the city limits, and make viable large civil engineering project like Metro West, as well as insuring a success is made of Metro North when construction begins in 2021 and is completed in 2025/26.

  • Reader

    lizmcneill: That…we already have,
    Given that Brexit will happen, how do you plan to keep what you have?
    At least when Article 50 is triggered it might clean up some of these endless layers of hypotheticals and wishful thinking.

  • Reader

    Skibo: Does the EU not have approximately 50 free trade agreements already?
    I suspect it doesn’t – the EU isn’t great at “Free” trade. But, supposing you are right; how many of these “Free Trade” agreements include free movement as part of the package? According to you, Free Trade with the EU is bundled with free movement.

  • Michael Dowds

    I think you meant to reply to my other post, but never mind.

    As I said, the focus should be on the impact of Brexit on NORTHERN IRELAND’s external sales, irrespective of the external region.

    Stating that ‘UK sales’ are vastly more important than RoI sales is totally meaningless and also doesn’t respond to my point. I was talking about non-GB sales (which obviously includes, but is not limited to, RoI) rather than RoI sales specifically. Please try to be exact.

    Presumably following Brexit, Northern Ireland (The North) will still be able to trade with itself. Short of nuclear apocalypse or re-partition, I can’t think of a scenario in which Northern Ireland would cease to trade with itself.

    It is thus ridiculous to suggest that EU membership, Customs Union, continuance of the United Kingdom link or any other such constitutional construct will impact on intra-Northern Ireland/ The North trade.

    The relevant numbers therefore are those that exclude intra-Northern Ireland sales.

    I fear that you’re deliberately obfuscating here so as to increase the impression of GB dependence.

    With regards to your final comment on tariffs, this is also totally irrelevant. As I’m sure you’re well aware (given your purported interest in researched facts), non-tariff barriers are significantly greater in effect than tariffs.

    I take no issue with those who have a critical attitude to the EU (campaigning and voting for Brexit is another matter), you’re just not being honest about the realities of our current and future situation.

    Yourself, Peter Lilly, John Redwood and Ian Duncan Smith should hire a cabin in the Scottish highlands and discuss your thoughts on this non-sense over a few drams of good Scotch. That way reality is unlikely to get in the way of your fantastical musings.

  • lizmcneill

    We will keep access to the internal GB market (barring a border poll with a UI result). This is being given as an advantage of Brexit for some reason, even though we gain nothing new and lose free access to EU markets.

  • Fear Éireannach
  • Jeffrey Peel

    Trade is important. The ultimate destinations doesn’t matter. But our trade with GB is more important than our trade with any other nation by a large margin.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    On the Republic’s exports I addressed this in my original post. A vast amount of exports are pharma products – bulk or packaged – going to the USA or to Antwerp. This is Ireland’s vast low-CT based FDI trade. Ireland exports vastly more, per capita, than most EU countries simply because it’s a corporate tax haven economy. Nothing wrong with that but it does make it very fragile as an export economy. It owns little of the IP of the products it exports. Northern Ireland, however, per capita, exports about twice as much products to GB than Ireland.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    Over a year. There’s the Cross border journey of the milk from farm to the creamery. Then back over the border for the milk to be processed in Mallusk. There’s the movement of materials between Mallusk and Dublin for manufacturing and packaging. Then there might be another cross border journey for the wholesaler and then the goods go back across the border to end up on the shelves of the supermarket.

    Over 12 months. That’s easily 3,000 journeys. I didn’t give that figure. Diageo did.

  • Jeffrey Peel
  • Michael Dowds

    You’re still missing the point.

    Northern Ireland/ The North has £66.7 Billion in TOTAL sales.

    65% of this is Intra-Northern Ireland and so will be discounted as it will be unaffected by the constitutional set-up (we’ll always be trading with ourselves, right?).

    Of the remaining 35% of sales, which are to regions outside of Northern Ireland/ The North,

    – 60% is to GB (that’s 21% of total sales)
    – 40% is to non-GB (that’s 14% of total sales)

    These numbers make it clear that GB is important as it is clearly the largest single market, it is not however massively more important. As you said, the ultimate destination doesn’t matter and so the ‘national’ ranking of GB relative to other nations is irrelevant. The fact that its outside NI is whats important. FOCUS!

    The critical question now is to understand where barriers, tariff or otherwise, should be positioned.

    Customs controls on goods moving between NI and GB MAY be less adversely affected than those moving between NI and RoW for example. It MAY be the opposite, it depends on how it’s done.

    Differential customs arrangements between NI & GB would not contravene UK sovereignty BTW. The UK would be implementing a Customs Code (agreed with the EU obviously) in part of its territory.

    I would imagine that British Unionists in Northern Ireland/ The North wouldn’t like this as it would make Northern Ireland/ The North different from the rest of the UK… but who cares?

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Who cares? Goodness. I’m afraid my commenting will have to cease…am trying to fit this stuff in between work commitments and it’s proving too distracting. Toodle pip.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I’m afraid my commenting will have to cease…am trying to fit this stuff in between work commitments and it’s proving too distracting. Toodle pip.

  • Michael Dowds

    *thumbs up*

  • Fear Éireannach

    How many NI entrepreneurs are remainers?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Some of us enjoy it.

  • Damien Mullan

    Didn’t re-shoring of intellectual property in 2015 not increase the size of GDP for 2015 by some 25%. So the intellectual property is now held in Ireland. Who ultimately cares about the notional nationalist origin of various multinationals, the name itself is a give way, they are multi-national. Have they not delivered the Republic a massive, robust, and modern, industrial base which she formerly never had, and as for the corporate tax, I’d rather have it completely limited, the tax accrued is not that important, it’s means to attract FDI, is, and the employment that comes with it, again, who gives a Ha’penny if that comes with some brass-plated operations also. I don’t think Jersey or Bermuda created 65,000 full times jobs in 2016, or 45,000 in 2015, hardly the hallmarks of a tax haven. The issue in relation to how Ireland sets it’s corporate tax was settled in 1921, it’s a sovereign matter entirely, just as Osborne showed, when he dropped the UK rate from 28% to 20%, is the UK as a result more of a tax haven than the US, France, or Germany, of course not, but this is always the response of former colonialists, to cast aspersions when the natives get uppity. Owing it is not the be all and end all, look at what airline leasing does, hardly rich in employment potential for Ireland, yet there it is, half the global market owned by Ireland. Getting FDI that has rich employment potential, that’s the game Ireland has been at, so what if some of the unintended consequences is some brass-plated outfits operate here, its more than a price worth paying. Ireland’s got an industrial base out of it, had it’s workforce trained as a consequence, look at the many of those former workers had established business of their own as a result. Well I think the UK would expect at least some wash back for the fact they keep you lot to the tune of £10 billion per annum. That’ll not be happening in a reunification scenario, you’ll be forced out of your dependency and defeatist mindset right and sharp.

  • Damien Mullan

    Talking of work, any consultancy work forth coming from AIB’s upcoming IPO. And what incredible results they posted last week. Signs, if they where needed, of the strength of the recovery in the Republic, plus, it puts into sharp comparison the expertise and talent at the NTMA, NAMA, and Irish Finance Department, in relation to dealing with legacy issues through a bad bank, against say, the policy adopted by the British government in relation to what seems an endlessly hopeless situation at RBS.

  • Superfluous

    A bit off topic, but I’ve never understood how the self declared libertarians of the British right are so against people having the liberty to move from one EU country to another EU country.

    Anyway, on the topic, this is just one big old list of bias confirmations. For all the stated attractions of doing business in Northern Ireland half my childhood friends are scattered everywhere else across the planet. At one point I actually found myself commuting back and forth from the Isle of Man for work (and paying for the flights and a second home out of my own pocket), such was the dearth of top level job prospects in Belfast. I actually find myself living in a country that only joined the EU in 2004 and yet the wages are higher than that of Belfast – I hardly think cheap EU offshoring was holding back this great British internal trade opportunity.

    No, Northern Ireland is not going to prosper from Brexit, unless it can find itself a much better niche than Chinese level labour costs and bargain basement property prices.

  • grumpy oul man

    Probably a wise move.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Oh and of course nobody who lives in Northern Ireland could be international minded or have lived anywhere else or have travelled. And all of us who oppose grotesquely inefficient supra-national institutions that squander taxpayers’ money must be bigots whose sole objection to the EU is that we don’t like foreigners. Northern Ireland has been a recipient of EU largess (our own money back again) for decades and has still ended up in the squalid state that you describe.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Why do you assume that I’d want to see only negativity in Ireland’s financial bounce-back? I have appeared numerous times on the media praising the performance of the Irish economy. I have made clear that Ireland’s enterprise focus is to be applauded and how much we can learn from it. I’ve also appeared numerous times (dozens) criticising Northern Ireland’s excessive dependence on state handouts while in RoI they can run a surplus (when we run an annual £9bn + deficit). But you appear to see only negativity in the UK. Did you miss the fact that the UK government contributed £14bn to the Irish bailout? Or the fact that the OBR recently reported a fiscal surplus massively higher than anticipated. This type them and us argument gets us nowhere. I have visited Dublin numerous times in the last year and I’m delighted to have worked with some of Ireland’s best startups. I want Ireland and Northern Ireland to thrive. But I have no doubt that leaving the EU is in the best interests of the UK. I also believe that Ireland’s interests would be better served by following us out.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    It’s reaping the benefits of the union to the extent of the vast bailout it receives annually from the UK treasury. As for predictions…well look at the predictions from the Governor of the Bank of England before the Brexit vote, or the OECD or the IMF or Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38637243
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-07/oecd-raises-u-k-growth-forecast-citing-forceful-boe-stimulus
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/02/bank-of-england-uk-growth-forecast-economy-brexit
    https://twitter.com/ninjaeconomics/status/772832325906362369

  • Jeffrey Peel
  • Kevin Breslin

    The odd newspaper and blog I take it?

    Forgive our many Doubting Thomases that sees holey arguements rather than holey hands. You see skepticism cuts both ways.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    My methodologies tend to go beyond that and I tend to have happy clients.

    Skepticism is always healthy but your style sometimes comes across a tad rude. But I’m thick skinned. Enjoy your evening…off to catch the tail end of Newsnight.

  • Damien Mullan

    I took the insinuation of Ireland being nothing more than a brass-plated tax haven as an insult. What has NI done to make itself economically viable, by which I mean, creating an engine of growth able to produce a rich harvest of jobs, the Republic is once again doing this, and this time more sustainable than the second phase of the Celtic Tiger dominated by an unsustainable construction boom. I’ll tell you what makes me angry, what made me angry in 2007/08 too, it was the return of emigration. I hate that the youth of Ireland, Protestant, Catholic, Nationalist and Unionist alike, have to journey away from this island to find opportunities for work and careers. I hate it. I hated seeing it return during the Financial Crisis years, seeing intelligent young Irish people leave involuntarily the land of their birth, whether from the south or north of this Ireland. Believe it or not I care for those from the unionist tradition, I want to see them doing well, I want them to find opportunities to find employment and fulfilled lives here, I want to see them continuing to cross the border and study at Trinity, to then find work, whether in the south or north, to feel comfortable living in a changed and unrecognizable Republic in the south. I’ve seen this change myself, as a gay man, I know many other LGBT people from across the divide, I see my friends from protestant backgrounds studying in Trinity, see them sight seeing across Ireland, surfing on the west coast, see their cover photos on FB of them standing on the Cliffs of Moher, of the ease with which they journey to Dublin and take in its cultural treasures, I know this change, I know its genuine. The social changes in the south have had a profound effect, while the bigotry and ignorance of unionism’s stand-bearers in the DUP has done untold damage. These young northerners from unionist backgrounds see no bogymen south of the border, they see no confessional state. With no natural resources like those on Scotland’s doorstep, what is the alternative for making this island work economically, other than being hyper competitive, in the spheres of tax, labour law, and elsewhere. They have stumbled numerous times, governments and policy experts in the south, but they did hit on an elixir in providing for an economically viable Ireland, the fruits of which flow northwards too. What wonders will an economy in the south, generating the kind of employment growth of the past two years, do in succeeding years for northerners seeking work closer to home, rather than ultimately being forced across the water. By all means they should go, if it’s to there benefit and their long term prospects, just as southerners have always journeyed to GB for employment, but if they could be afforded the chance of living at home and enjoying all these things, then why should we all not celebrate that too. As for the bailout, as the NTMA’s website states clearly, they give a comprehensive breakdown of the programme, loan maturities and all, “the bilateral loans from the United Kingdom (€3.8bn), Sweden (€0.6bn) and Denmark (€0.4bn)”. It was no £14 billion. The French and Germans contributed much more proportionally than the UK, and you might well say, ‘well they would, they share the Euro’, but they unlike the UK didn’t have a sizable retail banking unit operating here, as the UK government did with Ulster Bank (Republic), which has now returned to profitability for it’s parent company RBS, and despite contributing to it’s parent company’s many woes over recent years, is reflecting in it’s return to profitability, the wiseness of remaining in the Republic just as the economy fires on all cylinders, a very good gamble, as far as gambles during the Great Recession go. So the UK did rather well out of that bailout, the bottom didn’t fallout of the Irish economy entirely because of the bailout, and as a result, the UK treasury didn’t have to write off completely all of RBS assets in Ulster Bank (Republic). All loans to the UK, as the NTMA clearly show, will be repaid to the UK as of March 2021, while the Germans and French will wait until 2042 before the last and final payments are made, but given the improvement in the yield curve of late, that timeline might well be reduced as the NTMA rolls over that debt at an early time, but who knows when dealing with the EU. As for the Republic leaving the EU, be in no doubt, that once membership is no longer in Ireland’s interest, Ireland will leave the club, that’s one thing we Irish are known for, an unsentimental attitude to political unions of whatever stripe and size.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I don’t see any of your comments in the moderation queue?

  • Gingray

    Jeff, sometimes I worry about how you are able to claim to be a businessman when you struggle with simple mathematics.

    Oil is bought in dollars.
    Post brexit the pound has dropped by 20% against the dollar.
    Post brexit the price of petrol has risen by 20%.

    I am astounded that you fail to see the connection, and shocked that you waffle on about crude prices – they have an impact to be sure but nothing like that of Brexit.

    If you cannot acknowledge that for the vast majority of people Brexit has already done more harm than good, then no wonder people struggle to believe a word pro Brexit people say.

  • Skibo

    https://fullfact.org/europe/how-many-free-trade-deals-has-eu-done/
    Now add Canada to that list and the world looks alot more colourful.

  • Skibo

    Neither do I but the way the Westminster government legislates for here, call centres is all we will get. As said earlier, they have a lifespan. Noticed how a lot of calls now are more recorded and options.

  • Skibo

    I would vote for a socialist party no mater what country I was in. I count myself working class. SF are not as extreme as they once were and have actually moderated their message. It is still a working class message though.
    What is the socialist Unionist party? Who should working class Unionists vote for or is the question of the Union more important than bread and butter issues?

  • Skibo

    If the negotiations go pear shaped and the UK leaves with no agreement and no access to services, expect the house prices in Dublin and the surrounding area to go through the roof worse than they are at the moment.

  • Conor

    All the arguments presented were equally valid pre Brexit.
    What makes brexit an opportunity over status quo?
    The service economy will be impacted, the high street retailers you cite have benefitted from cross border shopping due to vat/currency exchange differences. This will be effected by customs checks.
    The service economy is impacted by tourism much of which originates through the south. Again Border/custom post will impact this.
    The Agricultural sector is more closely aligned cross border than to G.B. This will have to change dramatically.
    The list can go on…

  • Damien Mullan

    That issue has been resolved now, thanks anyway Brian, much appreciated. However there is an issue in relation to some comments being tagged as spam when they are not, I think it might have to do with the length of those comments, so going to truncate them down see if that resolves that particular problem. Thanks again.

  • Damien Mullan

    I took the insinuation of Ireland being nothing more than a brass-plated tax haven as an insult. What has NI done to make itself economically viable, by which I mean, creating an engine of growth able to produce a rich harvest of jobs, the Republic is once again doing this, and this time more sustainable than the second phase of the Celtic Tiger dominated by an unsustainable construction boom. I’ll tell you what makes me angry, what made me angry in 2007/08 too, it was the return of emigration. I hate that the youth of Ireland, Protestant, Catholic, Nationalist and Unionist alike, have to journey away from this island to find opportunities for work and careers. I hate it. I hated seeing it return during the Financial Crisis years, seeing intelligent young Irish people leave involuntarily the land of their birth, whether from the south or north of this Ireland. Believe it or not I care for those from the unionist tradition, I want to see them doing well, I want them to find opportunities to find employment and fulfilled lives here, I want to see them continuing to cross the border and study at Trinity, to then find work, whether in the south or north, to feel comfortable living in a changed and unrecognizable Republic in the south. I’ve seen this change myself, as a gay man, I know many other LGBT people from across the divide, I see my friends from protestant backgrounds studying in Trinity, see them sight seeing across Ireland, surfing on the west coast, see their cover photos on FB of them standing on the Cliffs of Moher, of the ease with which they journey to Dublin and take in its cultural treasures, I know this change, I know its genuine. 1/3

  • Damien Mullan

    …The social changes in the south have had a profound effect, while the bigotry and ignorance of unionism’s stand-bearers in the DUP has done untold damage. These young northerners from unionist backgrounds see no bogymen south of the border, they see no confessional state. With no natural resources like those on Scotland’s doorstep, what is the alternative for making this island work economically, other than being hyper competitive, in the spheres of tax, labour law, and elsewhere. They have stumbled numerous times, governments and policy experts in the south, but they did hit on an elixir in providing for an economically viable Ireland, the fruits of which flow northwards too. What wonders will an economy in the south, generating the kind of employment growth of the past two years, do in succeeding years for northerners seeking work closer to home, rather than ultimately being forced across the water. By all means they should go, if it’s to there benefit and their long term prospects, just as southerners have always journeyed to GB for employment, but if they could be afforded the chance of living at home and enjoying all these things, then why should we all not celebrate that too. 2/3

  • Damien Mullan

    …As for the bailout, as the NTMA’s website states clearly, they give a comprehensive breakdown of the programme, loan maturities and all, “the bilateral loans from the United Kingdom (€3.8bn), Sweden (€0.6bn) and Denmark (€0.4bn)”. It was no £14 billion. The French and Germans contributed much more proportionally than the UK, and you might well say, ‘well they would, they share the Euro’, but they unlike the UK didn’t have a sizable retail banking unit operating here, as the UK government did with Ulster Bank (Republic), which has now returned to profitability for it’s parent company RBS, and despite contributing to it’s parent company’s many woes over recent years, is reflecting in it’s return to profitability, the wiseness of remaining in the Republic just as the economy fires on all cylinders, a very good gamble, as far as gambles during the Great Recession go. So the UK did rather well out of that bailout, the bottom didn’t fallout of the Irish economy entirely because of the bailout, and as a result, the UK treasury didn’t have to write off completely all of RBS assets in Ulster Bank (Republic). All loans to the UK, as the NTMA clearly show, will be repaid to the UK as of March 2021, while the Germans and French will wait until 2042 before the last and final payments are made, but given the improvement in the yield curve of late, that timeline might well be reduced as the NTMA rolls over that debt at an early time, but who knows when dealing with the EU. As for the Republic leaving the EU, be in no doubt, that once membership is no longer in Ireland’s interest, Ireland will leave the club, that’s one thing we Irish are known for, an unsentimental attitude to political unions of whatever stripe and size. 3/3

  • Damien Mullan

    Frankly, I don’t see the Trump administration as a major threat. Not unless the U.S. manages to figure out how to slice Hawaii from the earth’s crust, sail the islands to the Panama canal, presumably turning them on their side to squeeze them through, then sailing them northwards and anchoring them just off the west coast of France. The U.S. could then take advantage of membership of the EU with a portion of its landmass in the vicinity. Barring this extraordinary engineering and physics feat however, I don’t see what the existential threat to Ireland the U.S. poses with a reduced corporate tax rate.
    Ireland within the EU with a corporate tax rate of 12.5%, able to export within a single market and customs union of some 450 million people post Brexit, will always have major advantages. An English speaking population and common law system only adds to this unique selling point. It must be stated that Ireland’s institutional expertise is very strong, the stellar professionalism of the IDA and the National Treasury Management Agency, both of which came out of the financial crisis and the years hence with their reputations enhanced, even if their best efforts were unable to avoid the bailout, all of which is a reflection of the depth of skills and and reserves of talent available.
    I also think you underestimate that for many nationalists in the north being a mere regional gear of a wider UK economy is utterly unacceptable, nationalists are more ambitious for this place, north and south. Nationalists aim for the stars, or at least, like Ryanair, the skies, an Irish success story with no Northern Ireland equivalent, which dominates the airline industry not only between these islands, but across an entire continent of 750 million people.

  • nilehenri

    why haven’t they done it yet then?

  • Superfluous

    “And all of us who oppose grotesquely inefficient supra-national institutions that squander taxpayers’ money”

    After the end of WWII the Americans initiated the Marshal Plan, to help countries like the UK recover from the devastation of war. The Germans taxed their own western citizens after the fall of the Berlin wall to try fix the historic lack of investment in the eastern territories. The World Bank now helps under developed states kickstart their way to developing nation status by using western tax payer money to encourage some green shoots. It goes to say there’s precedent for supra-national organisations using tax payers money to encourage development in under developed territories.

    I know very well what the EU does, I’ve watched the transformation of a non-EU state becoming an EU state. From my point of view it tries (but doesn’t always succeed) in westernising continental Europe in the same fashion as the Marshal program tried to fix western Europe after the devastation of war.

    As a side, I was in Stockholm last week, and one of the first things that hit me was the sheer amount of English signage all over the place. It appears that Europe hasn’t only been westernised, but it’s actually been Anglicised – yet the British (more specifically English) are too stupid to see how much this entire free market/open borders project was built on the Anglo-Saxon model developed by the British derived/English speaking nations of the world.

    The EU is a project that is very British, yet the British are now fixated with their narcissism over the small difference.

  • Brian Shanahan

    Tell me: Why should we listen to the words of a man who wants to return government back to the the 1650’s? Libertardism is at least 350 years out of date at this stage, and no country in the world will survive on such an antiquated and ignorant of reality philosophy.

    Unless that is, you think Somalia is the way to go.

  • nilehenri

    so why haven’t they done that yet then?

  • William Kinmont

    Do the Presbyterian cows know their milk is used for alcohol?

  • AC

    “The United Kingdom is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world”. We’re ranked 170th in the world.