Northern Ireland news

Westminster election candidate calls for Tayto boycott

Mark Ferris with Alliance councillor Patrick Brown, and inset, Mr Brown's post on his Facebook page
Brendan Hughes

A WESTMINSTER election candidate has called for people to consider boycotting the Northern Ireland brand of Tayto crisps.

Alliance councillor Patrick Brown made the plea after meeting a sole trader brought to court for selling the Republic's same-name brand north of the border.

Mark Ferris (48), from Ballynahinch in Co Down, said he felt "victimised" after Tayto NI issued trademark infringement proceedings against him.

He said southern Tayto is widely available in the north and it was "grossly unfair" he was targeted rather than larger businesses.

Mr Brown, Alliance's election candidate for South Down, posed for pictures with the businessman holding a poster which read: "Free the Tayto One!"

On his Facebook page, the councillor said he spoke to Mr Ferris about "how he's been the victim of big corporate interests going after the little guy".

He added: "Mark, you have my full support and I certainly would personally encourage you all to read into the case and consider boycotting Tayto in NI until they stop this campaign against a small local business."

The councillor for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council also shared a website link to an Irish News interview with Mr Ferris.

Read More: Southern Tayto sold in Belfast hotel despite northern Tayto court action

Tayto in the Republic was founded in 1954, while Tayto NI began in 1956 with a licensing deal. The two companies operate entirely separately.

The legal action has highlighted the strict commercial distinctions between the two famous brands.

Last week British prime minister Boris Johnson visited Tayto NI's Tandragee factory in Co Armagh.

The DUP's Gareth Wilson, a councillor in Co Armagh, yesterday rejected the call for a boycott.

"Tayto is a very important and valued local trader and I would not endorse any boycott of the employer or Tayto generally, as they have been such a mainstay in our borough and in the county, and successful as well," he said.

"Any agreement on sales either side of the border should be respected."

He added: "You would have a hard job telling the people of Northern Ireland to stop eating Tayto crisps."

Tayto did not respond to calls for a comment.

Legal action was taken against Mr Ferris over selling southern Tayto to shops and pubs in Northern Ireland, and the case reached Belfast's High Court in September.

His barrister confirmed to the court that the trademark breach was admitted, but stressed that the southern Tayto crisps were legally purchased.

Counsel for the northern firm based in Tandragree, Co Armagh, insisted the case was about protecting its trademark.

A judge awarded costs to the company and remitted the case to a High Court master for further financial examinations.

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