Middle East shop boycotts 'unacceptable'

Published Thursday, 07 August 2014
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The body representing independent retailers in Northern Ireland has said boycotts targeting its members which may sell stock produced from Middle East factories are "unacceptable".

Middle East shop boycotts 'unacceptable'
Mr Roberts has said boycotts could harm small business people. (© Presseye)

Because of the ongoing conflict in The Middle East between Israel and Gaza, there have been protests and calls for boycotts of large retailers which stock produce from factories in the region.

There have since been calls for boycotts of smaller independent retailers in Northern Ireland who may stock the same products.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said such demonstrations are damaging for local traders.

Chief Executive of the organisation, Glyn Roberts said: "It is disappointing that both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters have on social media and other media outlets called for protests and boycotts against independent retailers.

"Last week our members were being accused of being pro-Palestinian, this week they are now being accused of being pro-Israeli."

"It is unacceptable for local independent community retailers to be targeted in this way."

He added: "Our members only want to run their shops and have no interest in being dragged into this dispute. We recognise that both sides are passionate in their support but urge them not to call for boycotts or protest against our members.

"The reality is that NIIRTA members source as locally as possible, therefore stocking very little Israeli produce.

"In any case it is entirely a matter for the consumer on what they buy or do not buy."

Meanwhile, the Ulster Farmers' Union has voiced its concern about Russia's decision to ban all food imports from EU countries for one year, after sanctions were imposed on it over Ukraine.

Products from the EU, USA, Australia, Canada and Norway have been banned.

The list includes fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports.

UFU president Ian Marshall said: "Any barrier to trade is a cause for concern, especially as the NI agri-food industry is predominately export driven.

"Russia's decision demonstrates the volatility of the world export market, and it is likely that that NI's dairy industry will feel the effects of the decision first but it will ultimately have implications for the entire agri-food industry.

"Of the milk and milk products we produce almost 80% of them go to markets outside NI and while Russia only makes up a small percentage of this, the ban on food imports will have an impact on those who have had the initiative to break into the Russian market.

"At present, there are no NI red meat, pork or poultry imports into Russia so those sectors will not be immediately impacted by the ban."

Mr Marshall said that looking at the bigger picture, all 27 EU member states will be affected by Russia's blanket ban on food imports.

"There are many that have built up a great reliance on the Russian market and with it closed they will be looking to find a new home for their products. This is potentially a much bigger issue for us as there will undoubtedly be increased competition in world export markets.

He continued, saying that it is disappointing that farmers and the wider agri-food industry have been drawn into this global dispute.

"However, ensuring Northern Ireland has a diverse portfolio of market opportunities to support a growing and expanding agri-food industry will help to cushion against similar situations in future and cement our place in world export markets."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
23 Comments
ivp in n/abbey wrote (53 days ago):
Why boycott only isreali goods. Can people not see the palestinians firing rockets. Im not pro isreal but they have every right to defend themselves. ok there defence is way over the top bug this all started by hamas attacking isreal
think again in belfast wrote (54 days ago):
"Lucylou in belfast".... not once did I come on here blusterin and telling people wat to do. What I done was expressed an opinion that if the business owners were worried about neing boycotted, and then myabe they should source their products from elsewhere and then its not something they would have to anticipate happening to their business. Its clear from all the petitions I've seen online and from the comments left on here that people who are spending their money on the vast amount of products sourced from a war mongering country, are not happy. I do stand by my decision and have not told anyone to do the same as it really is up to every individual. After watching a documentary on tv about young children slaving in factories to make clothing for Primark, I have not stepped foot it the store since. So yes Lucylou, I do decide to do wat I think is right, but I dont force my opinion onto others nor do I shove it down their throat.
Michael in Belfast wrote (55 days ago):
Think again is right. Anyway I haven't seen a boycott against any corner shops/ small businesses. So far it's been Tesco, Asda, M&S etc. pls correct me if I'm wrong? Also how can he care so little about what they stock and wash their hands of any responsibility. You don't care what's happening in the world so long as you're making a profit? Finally, if you are a business man, you should probably listen to your customers/consumers. Calling their opionions unacceptable isn't going to win you any custom. If they were protesting a Nike factory for exploiting child labour would he have a problem with it? Probably, but just wouldn't be as vocal..
lucylou in belfast wrote (55 days ago):
Think again in Belfast----and possibly causing businesses here to close or have to lay people off work will help who exactly?? If you work and your job/business wouldn't be likely to be threatened by these boycotts demanding what YOU think the' right' thing for others to do is an easy option. What would be the point in heaping unnecessary misery on others. Look for alternative ways to show how you feel without loading the consequences of your wishes on people who may not even feel as you do! It should not be a case of don't do as I do. Do as I SAY! If you feel so strongly I take it you have written to your political representative and not just come on here blustering about what everyone else should do. Maybe YOU should think again and leave everyone else with the option of thinking and choosing for themselves. Whether or not they choose to buy/sell/deal in middle eastern goods from wherever is their choice not yours. You may not agree with it if they do, but remember, no-one is removing your choice not to.
Baxter Harrison in Beirut wrote (55 days ago):
That so mr Roberts? How about we follow Supervalue in the south of Ireland and boycott Israeli slaughter.
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