DOZENS OF BUSINESSES in the Monaghan town of Clones are accepting the old Irish punt in a bid to boost the local economy.
Though it was replaced by the euro 10 years ago, there is around €360 million in outstanding Irish notes and coins still in existence around the country, according to figures from the Central Bank.
Now the idea of one shopkeeper in Clones has spawned into a whole campaign in the town with over 40 shops, pubs, and other businesses getting involved by accepting customers’ old punts and giving them back change in euro vouchers which can be spent in other businesses in the town.
“My son, Ciaran, saw a documentary on the BBC about a town in Spain that had done it with the pesata and had had phenomenal success,” Tony Morgan, the owner of Lipton’s shop, told TheJournal.ie yesterday.
“It grew from there, we said we’d try that in the shop and see how it goes and from the business point of view it’s been very positive. I would have been laughed at initially but but once it started working…”
Now as part of the Embrace the Punt campaign, the businesses offer an exchange rate of IR£1 = €1.20.
The old money is taken by Morgan down to Dublin every month who exchanges it for euro at the old Central Bank rate of £IR1 = €1.27 with the difference going towards funding the campaign and local events.
The campaign has produced this promotional video:
YouTube: Tony Morgan
The idea has been embraced by the Clones Chamber of Commerce whose president Finbarr Dunwoody told TheJournal.ie: “It was crazy enough that we noticed as a chamber that it might actually work, there was a good advertising possibility in it.
“It was something to draw people from elsewhere to show that you can go to the butchers or go to the pub for a pint and generally encourage more people to come and embrace the whole idea.”
While there is nothing wrong with the businesses trading in the old Irish punt, the Central Bank said that it is not legal tender.
“Irish pound notes and coin are no longer legal tender. However they can be exchanged for euro at the Central Bank of Ireland either by post or in person,” the bank said in a statement to TheJournal.ie.
The €360 million is broken out into €234m in notes and €125m in coin (the discrepancy relates to the figures being rounded-up). The businesses in Clones even accept old coins on an even money basis.
Morgan said that there wasn’t huge amounts of money coming in through the scheme but it was a welcome boost during a difficult time for all businesses in the area due to the hike in the VAT rate which is now higher than in shops across the border in Northern Ireland.
“It’s tough everywhere,” he said. “The VAT rate hike has put it up to us. We sell a bar and a can for a euro, but you can’t put it up to one euro two cent. So it’s big time affecting the margin.”
To those interested in disposing of their old punts, Dunwoody explained how it might work: “If you bring in 20 punt into the town. You’ll have a spending power of €24.
“Then if you spend a fiver, we will give you three cards worth a fiver each and then four euro in change, then you can go and buy two pints, or do a bit of shopping in Super Valu.”
He added: “It’s the whole craziness of the idea, I think it’s fantastic, there’s an awful lot of interest and while the town is economically stagnant, any sort of a self-supported idea can only bring some benefit to it.”
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