Minister English speaks at launch of independent newsagents’ Policy Agenda 2015
NFRN survey results show substantial public support for action on rates relief, bank lending to small business, shoplifting and the illicit tobacco trade
8 December 2014
The Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation, Damien English TD, spoke at the launch of NFRN Ireland’s 2015 Public Affairs Agenda in Dublin on Thursday, 4 December. The agenda highlights the main issues affecting the business of retail newsagents in Ireland. Also attending the launch were chairman for Justice, Equality and Defence David Staunton TD, chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee Bernard Durkan TD; member of the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills Charlie McConalogue TD, independent TD Deputy Terence Flanagan, Health and Children committee member Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s office was also represented.
The agenda puts forward recommendations for change across a range of areas including the introduction of a ‘Small Business Rate Relief’ scheme, similar to that in Northern Ireland, which would see large, out of town retailers paying higher rates to local authorities as a means of supporting independent retailers in town centres.
NFRN Ireland is also calling on the government to get tough on crime by introducing tougher sentences for prolific shoplifters, providing additional resources to the black market while postponing the implementation of policies that could have a harmful effect on retailers such as plain packaging of tobacco products.
In addition, the federation is seeking a review of the competition issues that exist in the news distribution industry, including considering the introduction of a statutory instrument introduced under the Consumer and Competition Protection Bill that would protect retailers from significant increases in carriage charges.
NFRN Ireland president Peter Steemers, who owns his own shop in Bunclody, Co Wexford said: “NFRN Ireland cannot save its members’ businesses without the support of policy makers and for that reason is asking the government parties, opposition parties and Oireachtas members to support small shopkeepers who are at the heart of the communities they serve.”
Speaking at the launch, Minister English said: “In my previous role as Chair of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee, we worked extensively with the NFRN and other members of the retail community in order to develop a series of proposals aimed at tackling Ireland’s black market problem.” He added that he “look[ed] forward to the continuing engagement by the NFRN on these important issues over the course of 2015”.