Nightclub industry being treated as ‘whipping boys’ of pandemic, says owner

‘We operate a safe business. It’s just not fair, but nothing surprises me’, says Ian Redmond

Ian Redmond, owner of the Tramline night club on D’Olier Street, Dublin, said the decision to close nightclubs two weeks ago at midnight was made with a view to the sector taking the hint and closing itself. Photograph: Damien Eagers/The Irish Times

Ian Redmond, owner of the Tramline night club on D’Olier Street, Dublin, said the decision to close nightclubs two weeks ago at midnight was made with a view to the sector taking the hint and closing itself. Photograph: Damien Eagers/The Irish Times

 

Nightclub owner Ian Redmond has accused the Government of treating the industry as the “whipping boys” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Redmond said the decision to close nightclubs two weeks ago at midnight was made with a view to the sector taking the hint and closing itself.

When nightclub owners adjusted to the midnight closing time by opening up earlier, the Government decided to shut the sector, he maintained.

Mr Redmond owns Tramline in Dublin’s D’Olier Street and also represents nightclubs and late night bars within the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA).

He maintained all nightclub owners had followed the law in relation to ensuring that only vaccinated people got access to clubs, yet they were still forced to close.

“We operate a safe business. It’s just not fair, but nothing surprises me with Micheál Martin and Tony Holohan, ” he said.

Mr Redmond intends to open up until Monday night when the clubs close again. Tramline employs 55 part-time and full-time staff. Their future, as of now, is unclear.

He predicted that the four week closure for nightclubs is just the start and they are likely to remain closed until April next year at the earliest.

He described Mr Martin as a “very weak leader who is just doing what he is being told to do” and Mr Holohan as a “megalomaniac”.

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“It’s mindnumbingly boring how poor they are at communicating,” he added.

“I’m disgusted with Fianna Fáil to be honest with you. They always got my vote. I won’t be going anywhere near them now.”

‘Easy target’

Events organiser Buzz O’Neill-Maxwell said the nightclub sector was an “easy target” and they were being punished for the Government’s failure to control the spread of Covid-19 in primary schools.

“We asked for the data around outbreaks and clusters. We opened on October 22nd. The first clear data came on November 13th and 20th. Nightclubs did not feature in it once,” he said.

“We are asked to trust the science. I agree 100 per cent. The clear failing by the Government to address the schools issue is why we are closed, no other reason.”

David Morrissey, the proprietor of the Lost Lane nightclub off Grafton Street, said the sector cannot go on with the “starting and stopping - it just can’t continue. We need a plan in place to ensure the survival of the sector.”

The restrictions that mean live venues can only operate at 50 per cent of capacity “means effectively that we are closed”.

He said the employment wage subsidy scheme must be reintroduced at the old level and extended out until April.

Vintners Federation of Ireland chief executive Padraig Cribben described restrictions on the pub sector as “extremely disappointing”.

Representatives of both the VFI and the LVA met with the Taoiseach on Friday morning before the announcement of new measures.

From Monday there can only be a maximum of of six people at a table in bars and restaurants. Block booking of tables is also prohibited meaning there will be no Christmas parties this year.

He added: “We are going backwards with little sense of what the future holds for the trade.

“Publicans are asking how we get to a stage where we can trade safely without restrictions. Right now, Government is offering little advice.

“They have promised to meet us early in the New Year to map out the next 12 months but considering we thought the crisis would be over by now the trade is in a very dark place.

“There are supports available, including the return of the Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), but we’ll need to analyse the details to see how many of our members qualify. The reality is this is another disastrous day for the pub trade.”

The LVA tweeted: “We’re heartbroken for our late bar & nightclub members. Extraordinary disappointment to be closed again, after such a short opportunity to trade. Hard to take but we will rise again.”

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