Industry appeals for State help to save pubs

 

A CAMPAIGN to “save the Irish pub” in the light of almost 5,000 job losses in the industry this year was launched yesterday by the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI).

The federation, which represents publicans outside Dublin, said scores of public houses in rural areas had closed since the start of this year, and more would follow. Calling on the Government to immediately implement a five-point plan – and desist from measures such as a reduction in the legal alcohol limit for drivers – the federation also released new research showing the poor state of the industry.

The call to Government, headed “Recommendations to save the Irish pub” includes:

The extension of recently announced employment incentives for manufacturers to be extended to the hospitality sector

The reduction of VAT rates from 21.5 per cent to 15 per cent and from 13.5 per cent to 10 per cent

An ombudsman to ensure financial institutions are operating fairly and transparently in offering credit facilities

A reduction in local authority commercial and water rates, and

An undertaking that current blood alcohol levels permissible for drivers be maintained and not further reduced.

The drink driving proposals which have been drawn up by the Road Safety Authority recommend a reduction from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has also committed himself to a 20mg limit for novice drivers.

But the VFI said the proposal to lower the general limit “will have no effect on road fatalities and is likely to lead to further pub closures and job losses in rural areas”.

The industry research, which was commissioned from independent company Ask Chili, included the assertion that 81 per cent of members reported revenues were down during the key holiday period compared with last year.

The research also found half of those surveyed indicated that they had made reductions in the number of staff they employ over the last 12 months

Just over half of those surveyed – 54 per cent – anticipated they will have to make reductions in employee numbers in the next 12 months. Significantly, 43 per cent of them said they had reduced their opening hours, reflecting a slowdown in business.

Almost all of those surveyed, some 80 per cent, believed the increase in commercial and water rates by local authorities has had a detrimental affect on overheads.

Commenting on the findings, VFI president Val Hanley said rural pubs seemed to be suffering the most, and those pubs which relied on the tourism trade were also well down.

Padraig Cribben, VFI chief executive, said “we are now calling on the Government to help us save the pub trade in Ireland and to prevent more closures and job losses”.