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Publicans call 2012 'one of the worst' on record

The statement from publicans comes as Michael Noonan rules out a lid tax.

Traders enjoy a few pints during the annual Spancil Hill Horse fair in Co. Clare.
Traders enjoy a few pints during the annual Spancil Hill Horse fair in Co. Clare.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE VINTNERS’ FEDERATION of Ireland has called this year one of the worst on record for its members.

In a downbeat statement, the organisation accused the government of not appreciating the role publicans play and suppliers of not appreciating the business they give.

“The future is bleak,” it added.

“This year just gone saw our government put further pressure on an industry already on its knees with a massive increase in excise. It saw some major suppliers increasing prices in an untimely and unwelcome manner and finally we saw no leadership from local government with regard to local charges and rates.”

The VFI believe that the 54,000 employees in the sector are under “a dark cloud” as trade is down 34 per cent in the past five years and Budget 2013 could put more pressure on already-struggling consumers.

In their pre-Budget submission, publicans had asked the Fine Gael/Labour coalition to introduce a lid-on tax for alcohol products sold in off-licences. In a recent response to a parliamentary question, Finance Minister Michael Noonan ruled out the possibility of such a levy. He said preliminary advice suggested that the proposal “may not be consistent with the EU Directive concerning the general arrangements for excise duty on alcohol products”.

Concluding its statement, the VFI said 20 per cent of its members are at crisis point with 800 pubs in serious financial trouble.

“That is 4,800 jobs at risk; 4,800 new signatures on the live register. Because they will be in twos and threes nobody seems to take notice or indeed care. It is also 800 family businesses facing a terribly uncertain future. Maybe it will take such an announcement from our membership in 2013 for the suits in Leinster House and  elsewhere to take note.”

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