It would appear that sadly, the drip drip disengagement of certain businesses from the Mainland continues here in Ulster. Take as an example an unfortunate customer experience recently in a Costa Coffee outlet within Bloomfield Shopping Centre (in Bangor) on the 27th of October.

The sequence of events is as follows:

A local customer makes a purchase in the aforementioned store, presents a Costa Coffee Club Card and pays, only to be informed that their club card is not valid because “this is a United Kingdom card.” “Well,  this is the United Kingdom” the customer protests. “No, this is an Ireland business.” was the response.

So it would appear that this card – and all other such cards that have previously been used and accrued any credit are now deemed worthless by this national chain here in our small part of the United Kingdom?

Not my fault proclaimed the store manager.  Perhaps not, but clearly someone at Costa HQ has changed their policy here recently as cards such as this have been accepted in this store and other local stores previously.

It is little wonder that Unionism feels unease at times when this disengagement by stealth is taking place on our high streets in Northern Ireland. Whether this is by UK wide chains such as Costa and others, or by mainland firms simply refusing to supply local consumers.

It is quite evident that Stormont in its most recent guise has failed to protect our interests in this part of the United Kingdom. Perhaps it is better gone.