#Budget18: Brexit loans scheme receives mixed reaction from business owners on border

Business owners along the Irish border have given a mixed reaction to the budget's loan scheme to help small companies weather Brexit.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the scheme would offer small and medium sized companies loans to support them with the short-term financial impact on trade patterns disrupted due to the UK leaving the EU.

He said up to 300 million euro in loans will be on offer at "competitive rates" in order to help companies with their short-term working capital needs.

Businesses along the Irish border are among those facing the most uncertainty over Brexit's impact, due to their close links with Northern Ireland.

Peter Gallagher. Photo: Press Association.

Peter Gallagher, who owns petrol stations in Blacklion and Belcoo on either side of the border, said: "It's good that the government are taking an interest but a loan scheme won't be anywhere near enough.

"They need to be more proactive in lobbying the UK and the EU so they get a good deal. They're not being anywhere near vocal enough in trying to protect the border regions. We need clarity."

Tom Muckian, who owns Roe River bookshop in Dundalk, said that while the Brexit loan scheme might help small businesses in the short term, it would do little to challenge the wider issues they face.

He said: "I have to admit I'm cynical of any government assistance. So many small businesses like us have been ignored for years. Why was there no loan scheme for small businesses in the dark years of the recession?

"During the recession we had little help and even now they're letting big corporations operate without paying tax. Large corporations not paying their fair share of tax is a much bigger issue for us than Brexit. I'd rather they get serious about that."

He added: "We'll also have to see what conditions there are for the Brexit loan scheme. Some small businesses have poor credit due to the recession. We'll have to make sure they aren't excluded from the scheme, or the people who need it most won't see the benefit."

However, Brendan Marmion, who has owned a decorating and supplies shop in Dundalk since 1985, said fears over the impact Brexit could have on border communities was unwarranted.

"I'm not worried and here in Dundalk, the businesses all along the high street aren't worried," he said.

"I go up to the North every Wednesday to get supplies. There are some things which we just can't get here and other items are cheaper there than down South.

"I'm not worried about Brexit because I don't think it will actually be able to happen. They'll never really be able to close the border or impose customs. People always find a way, there are so many roads in and out of Dundalk."


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