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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 22:00 GMT
'Smooth' changeover to euro
Euros became a reality on the streets of Dublin
Euros became a reality on the streets of Dublin
Northern Ireland businesses in border areas have reported a smooth transition to trading in three currencies following the euro's introduction in the Irish Republic.

Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, has not introduced the new currency.

However, on Wednesday - the first day of major trading since the euro became legal tender in 12 European countries at midnight on Tuesday - many of the province's firms, which have for years been attracting cross-border custom by offering sales in Irish punts, were also accepting euros.

In Londonderry, which borders the Irish Republic's County Donegal, many shops are now pricing in sterling pounds, Irish punts and euros.

Declan Hasson:
Declan Hasson: "We aim to reach a wider market by trading in euros and pounds"

Chief executive of Derry's City Centre Initiative, Brendan Duddy, said: "We convinced the big players, the big supermarket players, all the big names to dual price."

Declan Hasson, manager of Derry department store Austin's, said the business wanted to make transactions as easy as possible for all of its customers.

"There is a market out there of 300 million people. It is not just the three million people living in the Irish Republic we are looking towards.

"We are looking much further afield to the opportunities provided by the euro in Europe and transactions through our website, etc."

It's a massive task. We have to take about IR£5 bn out of the system over the next six weeks, but for the first day of real trading it has gone exceptionally well

Gina Quinn
Dublin Chamber of Commerce

Meanwhile, in the Irish Republic, while there were long queues in the banks as people came to get the new currency, the shops reported a smooth transition to using the euro.

Dan Ryan of the Dublin department store Brown Thomas said: "The switchover has been very smooth.

"We switched over all our software on New Year's Eve; we opened for business this morning and so far we haven't had any glitches."

Mary Grogan of the Allied Irish Bank said: "People have been patient. The staff were well trained two and a half months in advance to prepare for this day.

"It is an exciting time for us as well as the customers."

Gina Quinn from Dublin Chamber of Commerce said that the successful changeover proved that most retailers had prepared well.

"It's a massive task. We have to take about IR£5 bn out of the system over the next six weeks, but for the first day of real trading it has gone exceptionally well.

John Norris from the Euro changeover Board of Ireland
John Norris: "We expect the punt to be dropped very quickly"

"Most retailers are operating dual tills so they're taking in punts and giving back the euro currency."

The Irish punt will continue to exist in dual circulation with the new notes and coins until 9 February.

But John Norris from the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland said he expected most of the remaining Irish punts to move out of circulation very quickly.

"Our feeling is that the Irish pound will be gone much faster than that. We believe the pound will be gone and the euro will be the full currency we are using in about two weeks," he said.

Nr Norris added that the onus was on consumers not to accept any attempt by shops and businesses to attempt price hikes during the changeover period.

"Our advice to people is if they notice prices moving unusually, particularly upwards, they should first take it up with the shop keeper. If they are still not happy, they should get in contact with the director of consumer affairs."

The UK, Sweden and Denmark are the only members of the EU not to join the monetary union.

BBC NI's Kieran Tourish reports from Derry:
"Many businesses in the city are now trading in three currencies"
BBC NI business editor James Kerr
reports on how the first major day of trading in euros has worked in Dublin
See also:

02 Jan 02 | Business
EU praises euro changeover
02 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
NI border firms accepting euros
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