No ‘Welfare Wednesday’ welcome but €3 drinks on tap

Customers ‘entitled to a social life’ at Liz Delaney’s pub in Coolock

 

It was a wet Wednesday but not a “Welfare Wednesday” at Liz Delaney’s pub on the edge of the Northside Shopping Centre in Coolock, Dublin.

The sign that kicked off all the controversy had been changed, but the prices remained the same. “Today’s special offers” included pints of lager for €3 and vodka at €3.

The attractions of cheap drink aside, this warm pub was certainly beckoning though the sleety drizzle.

The manager was having none of it, however. He was not going to have The Irish Times on his licensed premises – at any cost. “I’ve been on Morning Ireland and that is all I’m going to say,” he told us firmly, making sure we stood outside his bar’s boundary.

Some locals, outside for a smoke, were a tad less polite.

In a written statement earlier, Liz Delaney’s management clarified it was never their intention “to offend or upset anybody” or to trying to “encourage binge drinking or irresponsible behaviour”.

The message fell on understanding ears.

“People are entitled to a social life – even if they’re on social welfare. I think it’s snobbery,” said Anne Vickery from nearby Clarehall.

She was bringing her elderly mother for her weekly shop. She hadn’t been in to the pub for a long while, but her niece drinks there “and she’s not on social welfare”.

Vickery doesn’t see the harm in offering alcohol at cheap prices. “People can’t go out because they can’t afford it.”

She finds she saves more money by buying the occasional alcoholic drink from the supermarket and staying at home to consume it.

She is sure the arrival of UK brand Wetherspoons into the public house trade will bring prices down further.

In the meantime, Vickery has no problem with pubs like Liz Delaney’s offering discounts. “It’s giving people hope that they can have some sort of social life. I know this because I feel the pinch of not having money myself.”

As a local, who could sense the hostility her opinions might inspire, Nora preferred not to give her second name.

“I think it’s disgusting giving drink to people who are drawing social welfare when they should be out looking for a job. They should be spending it on their children or in the family home,” she said.

Pat, who also preferred to use a single name, had a much better grasp of the realities of the offer. No one is actually “giving drink” to anyone, he said.

Pat was making use of the pub’s offer after he collected his disability payment on Wednesday to double his pints tally.

While we were at it, he said, “shouldn’t the media be out covering something more important like the crisis in hospitals or the killings on our roads?”

“I’m on disability allowance. I came for a pint. I come every Wednesday because that’s when I get my allowance. I think I’m entitled to do that.”

Before anyone, anywhere gets even a little bit hotter under the collar, it is worth remembering that NHS figures in Britain have shown that professionals are almost twice as likely to drink heavily than those on lower incomes.

The professional classes are fond of their wine, noted Pat. “They’re buying their bottles of Beaujolais or whatever” at knock-down process in budget supermarkets, he said.

These were not the people Liz Delaney’s were playing to, however, when the Coolock pub came up with the idea of “Welfare Wednesdays”.

Ann Carrick from Belcamp comes down to Liz Delaney’s most Wednesdays and Saturdays. She had taken her adult daughter, who has special needs, shopping and thought she might now have a €3 pint of Coors.

She was not only there for the beer, though. “They look after everyone here. The pub is a great social space and if anyone gets too drunk, they are told to go home. If you get a bargain, don’t abuse it.”

Carrick never gets drunk, she enjoys an early drink, then goes home. That’s what the OAPs do too, “ramble home”, she said.

Recommending a hot whiskey to this icy hack, Carrick has one final bit of advice for everybody: “Relax and chill.”

Both things have been achieved.