Figures from the first-ever survey on cross-Border shopping revealed one in six households in the 26 Counties had been on such expeditions in the first six months of the year.
The drift of people and money across the border to purchase goods and services in the Six Counties in the run up to Christmas is frowned upon by trade and political organisations in the South.
Bur nearly half of all border county residents availed of the discount, while 21 per cent of Dubliners had. Some 435 miilion euro in revenue was transferred North in that period, a number which is predicted to have doubled for the second half of the year.
This money became instrumental in lifting the North out of recession but has had a chilling effect in those counties south of the border.
While the 26 County government has urged citizens to do their “patriotic duty” and not shop in the North of Ireland, its own army has made its own break for the border.
A party of Irish soldiers based in County Donegal are having their Christmas celebrations in anbd around Derry this weekend, according to the Sunday Tribune.
“They left us very happy and they were looking forward to their weekend across the border. It was great to see them,” said a spokesman for the Brunswick Superbowl in Pennyburn Industrial Estate.
Unionists reacted to the budget moves to slow cross-border shopping by pointing to the “deep irony” od a Fianna Fail-led administration trying to prevent people availing of services in the North.
“I think there is a political issue clearly that emerges that there’s always been a cry from the Irish Republic lor increased co-operation. It seems that is only cooperation when it benefits the economy of the Irish Republic,” Ulster Unionist Party deputy leader Danny Kennedy said.
Republican Sinn Fein has said the existence of partition must be questioned, not bargain-hunting.
Ard Chomhairle member Des Long said that question of why the norder is in place seldom seems to arise in the pricing debate.
“There is an outcry over people crossing the border to buy at lower prices in the Six Counties but there is no outrage over the existence of the border itself,” he said.
“The latest surveys that clearly show the drift of money over the border pin points the raw deal consumers in the 26 Counties are getting and will continue to endure over the Christmas and New Year.”
“There would be no artificial division if the British adhered to the aspiration of the Irish people and withdrew its political, military and economic forces from our country.
“The border divides our country and prevents Ireland realising the financial and business potential of a united entity trading as one unit with one currency.
“The evil of partition has divided people and is at the cause root of conflict and that partition of Ireland is backed by the British presence.
“It is time for politicians to cease criticising people for cross border shopping and instead to take the case for a united Ireland to the British.”