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'Crumbs from the table' - Publicans slam 'derisory' support package

A publican group has dismissed the Government's support package for the sector as 'derisory' - sa...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.27 29 Aug 2020


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'Crumbs from the table' - Publ...

'Crumbs from the table' - Publicans slam 'derisory' support package

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.27 29 Aug 2020


Share this article


A publican group has dismissed the Government's support package for the sector as 'derisory' - saying more money is the "only solution" to the problems facing pubs.

Donal O'Keefe of the Licensed Vintners Association says the package is "crumbs on the table".

Yesterday evening the Cabinet signed off on the €16 million support package.

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Pubs will have their licence renewal fees waived, while businesses which are still closed can also receive a top-up to the existing Restart Grant.

However, vintners' groups immediately criticised the measures as insufficient - describing it as "disappointing in the extreme".

Donal O'Keefee, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, told Shane Beatty on Newstalk Breakfast that many publicans are now in a "terrible situation".

He said: "We're still extraordinarily disappointed and indeed despairing for our future. Wet pubs will be closed for a minimum of six months. When you think about the impact of a six month closure on a business...

"Money is the only solution to our problems. To get a package announced last night that offers small publicans 1,600 quid for a six month closure and large pubs up to €10,000 for a six-month closure... it really is crumbs from the table. It makes no dent on our problems.

"We had argued that pubs need a weekly cash payment, based on the Restart Grant Plus... similar to what the Government did for businesses in Laois, Offaly and Kildare during their closure.

"Money is the only solution to our problems here. Much of the July stimulus simply doesn't apply to businesses that are closed: it's of no benefit if you can't trade.

He said publicans believed the Government were "duty-bound" to support businesses closed on public health grounds, but that the level of support announced last night is "derisory".

'Powerful case' to allow pubs reopen

Mr O'Keeffe said he believes 'wet pubs' should now have the same opportunity as other businesses in the hospitality sector to reopen.

He suggested there's a "powerful case" for them to reopen, with strong public health measures in place.

In terms of pubs being allowed reopened under the current coronavirus situation, he explained: "It's looking more and more grim... it's very hard to see a scenario where the level of infection in the short-term will permit them to reopen.

"It is important to recognise [ministers] have said publicly they are going to work with NPHET to produce protocols to reopen pubs... we would be keen to be involved in that. We have strong views about how it should happen. Every other market in Europe has their wet pubs open."

Mr O'Keeffe also said vintners have no problem with gardaí being given the powers to "close businesses on the spot" if they flout the law.

It comes after it was confirmed last night that gardaí are set to be given the power to close a pub or restaurant breaking COVID-19 health regulations for up to 30 days.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images

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