Sunday, 23 May 2021

The second Anglo-Irish Guinness crisis

Peace didn’t last all that long. Less than two years later, in October 1943, renewed shortages of grain in the Republic of Ireland saw the dispute flare up again. With exports of beer being banned once again.

Once again, there was the prospect of most pubs in Northern Ireland having to close. Though the situation was more serious in Northern Irland, where the vast majority of beer was supplied from the Guinness brewery in Dublin, parts of the North of England and Scotland were also affected. The Guinness Park Royal brewery only supplied the southern half of England and Wales.

Once again, the suggestion was mooted in the Northern Irish Parliament that the Ulster Brewery should step up production to fill the gap. Unfortunately, this wasn’t something in the power of the Northern Irish government, as the distribution of raw materials for brewing was handled by the central UK government.

One MP asked the Northern Irish Prime Minister:

“would not be possible to secure imports from Great Britain or to make an effort to arrange for manufacture in Northern Ireland so that workers could not held to ransom "every time it suits certain people.””
Belfast News-Letter - Wednesday 10 November 1943, page 5.

The export ban lasted longer this time, stretching out to more than a month. Supplies of Guinness resumed on 6th December 1943. I’m sure the 300 barmen who had lost their jobs were delighted. Though a quota of only 75% of the 1941 quantities was provided.  But at least there was Guinness again.

Once more, the exact nature of the deal between the UK and the Republic of Ireland wasn’t made public. Presumably it did entail Ireland getting its hands on more grain one way or another.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A grain shortage in October 1943 is a little striking to me. Atlantic convoys were getting through pretty easily by then, and harvests in the US and Canada would be in full swing.

Maybe shipping was heavily prioritized for war material, or maybe grain shipments were solely for Britain and neutral countries were left to fend for themselves? Or maybe Ireland had a major problem with its harvests?