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Connacht Tribune

Positive noises on a Brexit deal just flatter to deceive

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A fountain to climb... Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar on walkabout in the Wirral.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

For a moment there, we were almost convinced we had rapid forward movement – until we realised all it was the air escaping from the Brexit balloon. It did a few loop-the-loops and then nosedived to a deflated end.  We were full of hope after the Wirral when Leo Varadkar hinted he had found a ‘path’ to a possible deal on Brexit. What he neglected to say was the path was over-grown and full of briars and nettles, with the odd snake lurking in the undergrowth.

So will something give; as we go to press the European summit in Brussels in still in full flow, and there’s no better place for a lastminute.com deal.

It’s not impossible – but it’s going to be very difficult.

The customs solution Boris Johnson is offering is, well, unworkable. The head of the EU’s task force Michel Barnier described it as perplexing. The rest of us are well and truly bamboozled.

In a nutshell, Johnson wants the whole of the UK out of the customs union. That includes Northern Ireland. But the six counties will have a special status, a kind of a hybrid situation when it comes to customs.

Goods going into Northern Ireland will be taken as entering the UK customs area. But if they are then going on to Ireland, the customs regime and rates that will apply will be those of the EU. For Northern Ireland traders if the EU custom rate is higher, they will be entitled to a rebate.

But that means that for all goods entering Northern Ireland you will have to know their final destination to apply the correct customs rate. So everything will have to be tracked.

But as the EU has pointed out, modern supply chains are so complex that will be impossible to do. And what if the good changes form and is then exported to the EU.

The example was given of sugar going into the North, being used as an ingredient in fizzy drinks, which are then sent onto the EU. How do you track that and apply the rate? The EU has argued there was the potential for fraud.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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