Northern Ireland

Political uncertainty spills into economy


The business world in the Republic of Ireland is keeping its fingers crossed that whoever comes to power will be able to move the economy in a positive direction.

Despite the fact that there are many fears for the future, there is a strong undertone of optimism in the border town of Dundalk.

Town centre commercial manager, Andrew Mawhinney, said there had been an improvement in the retail sector.

"Consumer confidence is still low but we find here in the border area that people are beginning to shop more local," he said.

"They are looking at value, things are beginning to happen.

"It can't get much worse politically speaking, we need government to show leadership to the country and that will then come down to the businesses."

Furniture retailer Brian O'Neill who describes himself as a 'super-optimist' hopes there will be a fundamental change.

"The people want accountability from government," he said.

'We need confidence'

"We don't want quangos and we don't want the things that have been happening on different boards and in banking etcetera.

"Confidence, we need confidence and confidence will come back and the fact that our exports are going up, there is going to be confidence.

"We are not going to fall down, we are not going to implode. That won't happen."

Paddy Malone, President of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce said business people needed stability.

"I think the uncertainty over the last couple of weeks hasn't helped matters," he said.

"I think there had been a bounce before Christmas when we realised the VAT rates were going to come similar, the exchange rate had gone in our favour.

"We were beginning to see that rare breed of a northern car coming here to shop.

"Whether that will continue now will depend on a stable government in Dublin.

"We haven't heard any single piece of good news for several years so it's very hard to take anymore blows.

There are no election posters yet on the streets of Dundalk but some town centre shoppers had firm views on their voting intentions.

"I'm not looking forward to the election because I don't know what to do, I don't think I would vote Fianna Fail back in."

"We can barely survive on what we have and they are taking more money off us."

"It doesn't matter who goes in does it, it doesn't matter to this country. It's gone to hell."

"I don't think there is anybody suitable out there to give my vote to, I wish there was."

"I want a big change, enough damage done. The country's gone down the drain and that's it."