Ballinasloe business owners angry as street traders sell smuggled goods at rock bottom prices.
Roughly 1,000 people involved in street and stall trading in Ireland, selling a vast array of goods with prices that seem to defy explanation. A street trader in Ballinasloe, County Galway is selling jumpers with a retail price of £3.40 for just £1.25.
The roadside traders say they can do this by reducing profit margins, but the reality of the situation is a highly organised cross border smuggling racket.
The activities of street traders have been under surveillance by customs officials and numerous seizure of goods have been made.
Roadside trader Stephen McGinley makes £7-8000 in a good season. He is aware that smuggling goes on. Another trader at Ballinasloe prefers to pay the duty on his goods, but he knows the sale of smuggled goods is common practice amongst traders in Cork and Kerry.
You'll be caught some time or other, you won’t escape the whole time, you have to be caught some time.
A trader dealing in children’s bicycles buys his goods legitimately at the docks in Dublin. He can sell bicycles cheaper than in the shops because,
I buy them in bulk, you get them at a bargain price, simple as that.
The growth of the street trading phenomenon has angered business owners throughout the country, particularly those with drapery and electrical shops. Michael Keller has great animosity toward the street traders. He pays taxes and rent for his premises but says the traders have no responsibilities and when they leave an area it needs to be cleaned.
Treasurer of Ballinasloe Chamber of Commerce Joe Hill wants to see the introduction of controls on mobile retail outlets to protect established traders.
However Stephen McGinley is unconcerned that his trading could threaten jobs,
They don’t mind if they put us off the street, they don’t mind what happens to us, why should we mind about them?
While business owners are up in arms about the roadside traders, shoppers all over the country are delighted with the bargains on offer. Although Stanley Clarke who owns an electrical goods shop in Ballinasloe, warns that a transistor radio costing £4 cannot be expected to last long.
A 'Newsround’ report broadcast on 19 October 1975. The reporter is Jim Fahy.