Vintners call on government to deliver rural transport schemes

Organisation says 6,000 jobs are gone since 2009

The government is being called on to fulfil the promises its made to tackle low cost alcohol sales in supermarkets and provide rural transport schemes. Over 350 have attended the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) annual conference in Co. Meath today and have been hearing how 38 jobs are being lost in the pub trade every week.

The VFI says the government is stalling on the introduction of regulations controlling the sale, promotion and supply of alcohol.

VFI President and Kilkenny publican Gerry Rafter addressed the delegates and highlighted that publicans and other businesses all over Ireland are struggling for survival.

"The pub trade is losing 38 jobs a week and the longer government stalls on the introduction of legislation on the sale of alcohol, the more likely it is that this trend will continue. Minister White and Minister Shortall before him championed a minimum price for alcohol and safer sale and promotion of alcohol, but still we have seen no movement" he said.

"We cannot be ignored any longer and the health lobby and public opinion firmly backs our stance" he added.

'50,000 rely on the pub for employment'

A recent Ipsos-MRBI poll showed an approval rate of over 3-to-1 for minimum pricing, while the same poll showed an approval rate of almost 2-to-1 for reducing the number of outlets selling alcohol.

Mr Rafter continued "50,000 people rely on the pub as a means of employment and to support their families. The drinks industry has lost 6,000 jobs since 2009 and 1,300 pubs have shut their doors since 2005. The value of the pub as a large employer outside Dublin is often overlooked".

One of the main items for discussion was an emergency AGM Motion outlining opposition amongst VFI members to the austerity measures that are currently being implemented by government and they say are underlining fragile consumer confidence.

Publicans Jerry O'Dea and Pat Gilmore told Lunchtime here on Newstalk that promises made to tackle rural isolation and transport have also been reneged upon.