Autumn of discontent in prospect
The Summer just seems to have flown by and while it wasn’t a repeat of last year’s heatwave-harvest, it was, nevertheless, ideal weather for the licensed trade – one didn’t feel so bad about going indoors for a pint on the dull days.
But with the return of the Dáil, TDs are strapping on their Brexit seat-belts and it’s clear that even at this late stage no-one knows for sure just what’s going to happen when next month ends and Brexit begins to bite on 1st November.
Will Sterling plummet to the point where a trip to the bottom of the garden is about the limit of what the average UK citizen will be able to afford by way of an excursion – and just how badly will the Irish pub trade be affected by the UK tourists’ fortunes with their national currency?
Bearing in mind the all-too-real possibility of tariffs being imposed on goods inwards (and outwards) on both finished product and raw materials alike, what will be the downstream effect of the delays and increased paperwork for the thousands of NI border crossings back and forth each year or on the price the consumer pays at the pub or off-licence for a whiskey, vodka or an Irish Cream?
After all, the UK is Ireland’s second-largest importer of Irish whiskey, cream liqueur and poitín and all the cross-border initiatives set up to help the sector grow could well be under threat in a no-deal scenario.
The US remains the top market for these beverages but should President Trump go ahead and put retaliatory tariffs on EU sprits, for example, this route to market would also find itself considerably constricted.
With such storm clouds threatening one of Ireland’s biggest export industries, it behoves our government to tread lightly and carefully – to think through fully all the downstream implications of any move that it might think to make this Autumn.