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Publicans dismiss €16 million government support package for pubs as 'crumbs'

Pubs that don’t serve food were to reopen on Monday but that now won’t happen.

The Temple Bar pub in Dublin remains shuttered.
The Temple Bar pub in Dublin remains shuttered.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

Updated Aug 28th 2020, 8:02 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced a €16 million support package for the pubs around the country following the confirmation the they would not be reopening.

Since 29 June, pubs that serve food have been permitted to re-open under strict guidelines, but other pubs have had to remain shut.

They were initially slated to reopen on 10 August but that was pushed back until 31 August. It was confirmed last night that this date was to be pushed back again.

Following this decision, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar announced this evening after a Cabinet meeting that a support package for publicans was to be introduced.

Exact details of the package are yet to be revealed but the Varadkar said they would top-up the restart grant for affected pubs by 40%, waive licence fees and court fees for pubs that remain closed as part of the package.

Varadkar added that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was working with the Government on protocols that could allow pubs to re-open in future, if the spread of Covid-19 becomes more limited.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said the package would be worth up to €4,000 for licence holders, and confirmed it would also apply to restaurants, hotels and bars that are already open.

“We all know what they really want is to be allowed to re-open, and that is an issue that the Government will engage with NPHET on,” he said.

Pubs ‘wither on the vine’

Responding to the announcement today, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said: “We asked for support, not sympathy and the Government has given us crumbs.”

“Pubs that are still closed will receive the same level of restart grant as provided to businesses in Kildare, some of whom remained open.

Kildare businesses received a 40% grant for four weeks closure but wet pubs, who will be kept closed for a minimum of six months, will receive the same 40% grant.

“This is paltry gesture which shows how little regard this Government has for the troubles of the pub industry,” said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA. “It is disappointing in the extreme.”

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Padraig Cribben, CEO of VFI said that the package was “woefully inadequate”.

Our members are facing into an autumn of uncertainty with no guidance from Government about how and when they will be allowed reopen. 
Publicans are now in complete despair. They can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel and these supports will do nothing to ease their fears for the future.

“The Government is allowing thousands of pubs wither on the vine and the damage being done to local communities across the country is incalculable,” he said.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) have previously stated that pubs were being treated differently to other sectors of the economy and that funding was needed if they were to remain closed. 

Publicans had called for support including direct financial aid, the maintenance of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and temporary wage subsidy at current rates for all closed pubs until their reopening and an extension of current licences until September next year.

Speaking earlier this month, Varadkar had said he hoped to announced a support package for pubs and nightclubs if the date for reopening was pushed back further. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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