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The government was very concerned with bike tyres in 1985

Important business…
Jan 2nd 2016, 8:30 AM 20,419 16

shutterstock_127131593 Source: Shutterstock/saap585

A LENGTHY FILE in the papers just released under the 30 year rule by the National Archives involves a truly seismic political conundrum – the need to cap the importation of bicycle tyres.

This may need some explanation. Back when our state was in its infancy, we made cycle tyres here. So, in 1934 a quota on imports was put in place to discourage external competition when it came to the manufacture of certain goods. Cycle tyres being one of them.

20151202_145619 Source: National Archives 2015/88/255

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The government was in an odd situation. The old and not-fit-for-purpose order still needed to be updated once a year (we’d stopped the manufacture of cycle tyres here in 1976 so not importing them wasn’t really an option. Otherwise we’d be cycling around on steel rings. With no suspension).

So they did what any responsible government would do in such a situation – they renewed the order with a quota of not more than 200 cycle tyres to be imported from all countries… excepting all the other EEC (European Economic Community, the forerunner to the EU) countries, Algeria, Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, and the US.

pic1 Source: National Archives 2015/88/255

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20151202_150202 Source: National Archives 2015/88/255

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If this all seems like a lot of chat over nothing… well, it is. But there was a political dimension to it also.

As a government memo from the time shows, the quota was kept purely as a concession bargaining chip for future use against our European compatriots.

So there you go. Diplomacy can be a tricky business and no mistake.

Read: Ireland was terrified that exercise could be the end of us all in the early 1980s…

Read: Irish prisons ran out of overtime cash in 1984 – so they started letting prisoners go early

See National Archives file 2015/88/255

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Cianan Brennan

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