Former Brexit secretary David Davis caused something of a stir, in October 2018, by saying people can buy drinks with pounds in the Republic of Ireland and vice versa with euros in Northern Ireland. That’s mostly false.
Davis made the comments while discussing the future of the border between the Republic and the North. He said the difficulty in resolving what will happen to the border after Britain leaves the EU has been exaggerated.
People can buy alcohol in Dublin with pound sterling and vice versa with euros in Belfast.
Speaking to Sky News programme Ridge on Sunday, the Conservative MP said: “I’m reasonably familiar with the Irish border, over the course of 20 years or so.
“There is already a border there, there’s a customs border, there’s a judicial border, there’s a currency border. Those borders all operate invisibly, the only way you can tell is the stripe in the middle of the road changes colour as you go over the border.”
Davis said the biggest issues with regard to the border are tax and smuggling, which could both be dealt with by authorities. He then added that it doesn’t matter which currency people carry in either jurisdiction.
“The people who are over-simplifying it are the Irish government and the Commission by saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got to have a sweeping political answer.’ There is no acceptable sweeping political answer.
What they have to do is look at the detail, the detail of tax on the border … It doesn’t matter whether you carry a euro or pound, you can buy your drinks in Belfast in euros and you can buy it in Dublin in pounds.
During the course of Brexit negotiations, several high-ranking politicians in the UK have shown a lack of knowledge or understanding of how things work in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
For the record, the official currency in the Republic of Ireland is the euro. The official currency in Northern Ireland is pound sterling (bear with us).
Some businesses that are popular with tourists do accept various currencies as payment but this is something decided by each individual company.
When asked about Davis’ comments, a spokesperson for the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said the organisation has “no official policy” on the matter.
“From observation some businesses close to the border accept payment in both currencies but it’s a localised occurrence. It’s for individual publicans to decide whether to accept sterling,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said the tourism body has “no role in advising tourism businesses in relation to currency exchange as this would be a commercial matter for each individual business”.
As many people have pointed out, one can’t use either currency interchangeably in both jurisdictions.
Fluctuating exchange rates and the general hassle of having to exchange the money means most businesses only accept the official currency of their country.
Some establishments (generally those close to the border or popular with tourists) do accept either currency. However, this is the exception rather than the norm.
With this in mind, we rate this claim MOSTLY FALSE.