Offaly vintners in Dail march to save pub jobs

OFFALY publicans joined hundreds as they marched to the Dail to call on the Government to help save the 5,000 jobs predicted to be lost in the pub industry in 2012.

OFFALY publicans joined hundreds as they marched to the Dail to call on the Government to help save the 5,000 jobs predicted to be lost in the pub industry in 2012.

The representative group of publicans gathered outside Leinister House to lay out their demands to the Government and to highlight their concerns and the challenges facing the industry, which they say is “already on its knees” on Thursday last, November 17.

Speaking to the Offaly Express, local publican, Percy Clendennen, who was at the gathering outside Leinster House, explained “publicans are struggling”.

He added that the publicans met with their local representatives on the day to outline their concerns while handing in a petition to an Taoiseach.

Percy continued that another worrying fact has raised its head with the talk of a VAT increase late last week. “We didn’t even know about this last week and there is already so many struggling.”

Gerry Mellett, President of the VFI, said, “The pub industry is on its knees and more than one pub is closing every day. The industry is haemorrhaging jobs and last year over 5,000 people went out of work from our industry. That is equivalent of five ‘Avivas’ and next year is looking even bleaker. We have experienced our worst October in over two decades after years of decline and we need urgent action to save job.”

The group pointed out there would be significant closures and job losses are inevitable, unless “critical measures” are implemented by Government to support the struggling pub industry. The VFI members made a number of demands at the meeting including a clause in the forthcoming Valuation Bill allowing an appeal on rates based on a change in economic circumstances of the business, that publicans should be exempt from VAT and VRT on all new seven and nine seat vehicles to reflect the reality that publications are acting as de facto drivers in rural Ireland as well as a recognition by the budget that Ireland has the third highest level of excise in Europe and anything other than a reasonable reduction will have a negative impact on jobs.

Mr Mellet explained the positive effects these measures could have on the industry. “The VFI firmly believes that if these issues are addressed and appropriate policies are put in place, thousands of jobs could be saved with consequent savings for the exchequer. The current administration is not to blame for years of neglect, poor legislation and high cots facing small businesses, but the future of our industry is in their hands.

“The majority of our publicans cannot sustain current sales trends allied to high cost base of doing business. It is within the Government’s power to reduce the cost of doing business in Ireland to help publicans and other small businesses keep their doors open and save jobs. Pubs are cutting costs and trying to stay a afloat but we need assistance.”