Policy for listing Northern Irish & UK suppliers
The Assist Ireland website aims to provide information on Assistive Technology to as many Irish people as possible. The Assistive Technology (AT) market in the Republic of Ireland is quite small; therefore some unique policies have grown up in relation to product distribution.
For example a lot of Irish companies selling AT equipment don't manufacture the products themselves but supply a range of products from larger UK companies. The Irish suppliers occasionally set up sole agency agreements with these UK distributors. Sole agency agreements allow the Irish company to be the sole supplier of UK companies products in the Republic of Ireland. This type of arrangement can cause a number of problems for Assist Ireland as there may also be a number of Northern Irish companies authorised to sell these products in the Northern Irish market.
Another situation unique to the Southern Irish market is that a number of UK companies provide products in the Irish market that are not yet distributed by Irish companies, especially in the AAC market.
Due to these irregularities in the Irish AT market we have decided to set-up a policy around how we deal with and list companies from outside the Republic of Ireland on the Assist Ireland website.
Northern Irish Suppliers
- Northern Irish companies and their products can be listed on the Assist Ireland website in most cases as this provides greater choice for the user.
- The exception to this is if a Northern Irish company is distributing products from a UK company that a supplier in the Republic of Ireland has a sole agency agreement with. (Sole Agency means that the UK distributor and one Irish supplier have legally agreed that the supplier is the only one authorised to sell the distributors goods in the Republic of Ireland.)
- In the case of sole agency agreements we will ask the UK distributor to confirm this arrangement in writing explaining that they only want the Republic of Ireland company listed for their products on the Assist Ireland website.
- UK companies and their products can be listed on the Assist Ireland website if they sell into Ireland, as this provides greater choice for the user. A number of UK companies provide products in the Irish market that are not yet distributed by Irish companies, especially in the AAC market. Also some Irish disability organisations have ties with these UK companies, who regularly have representatives come to Ireland.
- The exception to this is if the UK company has a sole agency agreement with a Republic of Ireland company to distribute their products. Then the Irish distributor will be the only one listed.
- In the case of sole agency agreements we will ask the UK distributor to confirm this arrangement in writing explaining that they only want the Irish company listed for their products on the Assist Ireland website.
Reasons for these decisions
- The North and South of Ireland are two separate markets and UK distributors manage these two markets through different divisions/departments and personnel e.g. UK and International.
- Northern Ireland is a different jurisdiction to the Republic of Ireland. It has different grants and funding for AT and it has its own Assistive Technology website
- At Assist Ireland we have decided to honour sole agency agreements as they are binding agreements. When we contact the UK distributors on this, they generally just want the Republic of Ireland supplier listed on Assist Ireland even though they themselves could sell into the Northern Irish jurisdiction.
- Assist Ireland is an Irish egovernment website; therefore we primarily serve the Irish citizen in the Republic of Ireland as per the Citizens Information website.