Plans to clamp drivers from the Republic who fail to pay parking fines issued in Northern Ireland could drive shoppers away from border towns, it has been claimed.
The stark warning comes after the Department for Regional Development revealed it was ready to introduce clamping in a bid to stop cross-border motorists escaping punishment.
Around one in four tickets issued to cars registered in the Republic remains unpaid — which amounts to almost £650,000.
As things stand, Southern drivers do not face any punishment if they ignore a fine issued in Northern Ireland. But Roads Minister Danny Kennedy is to write to his counterpart in the Irish government outlining new plans to recover parking debt.
Simon Richardson from DRD warned that cross-border drivers who clock up unpaid fines could soon face serious consequences.
But Newry mayor John McArdle said the plan will have a devastating impact on border towns.
“I understand the problems with illegal parking but this would be a disaster,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “If word gets out that your car could be clamped if you go to Newry then they won’t come here, simple as that,” he said.