Martin O’Dea Limerick Leader Briefing Notes

PSG

Alcohol Bill

  • The proposals contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 are long overdue.
  • We have for years called for action to ensure the safe and responsible sale of alcohol for several years.
  • We broadly welcome the steps taken by Minister Varadkar and agree that any long term strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse must address the core issues of availability, promotion and price.
  • What we need now is for the Minister to ensure he gives further clarity and sets the minimum price level and implementation date.
  • The Minister has correctly referred to the need to structurally separate alcohol from other products in supermarkets.
  • We call on the Department of Justice to speedily commence Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which caters for this structural separation.

Future of The Pub

  • Pub trade has encountered a difficult period, around 1,300 pubs have closed since ’05 and jobs have been lost
  • Thankfully this rate of closures and job losses has slowed and there is a real air of optimism about the future of the pub
  • The general outlook still seems to be that for the pub trade to recover, the economy will have to recover first. Consumers need to feel confident and start spending again. Thankfully, we are starting to see that.
  • Most pubs are still facing challenges;
    • Lack of disposable income
    • Emigration of our youth
    • Rural establishments serving smaller catchment areas
    • Rural pubs having very poor transport services
    • High costs continue to hamper publicans with Sky, IMRO and commercial rates continually rising.
    • Lack of relief from the rate of excise
  • Despite all that, there are continued and consistent signs that the pub is beginning to turn a corner.
  • There is now an increased focus from publicans on changed offerings, concentrating on events to drive footfall while embracing social media to good effect.
  • Events such as theatre nights, open comedy sessions and even Irish speaking only nights are becoming more and more common amongst publicans
  • Social media is playing an increasingly big role in the pub trade and we are now very much immersed in ‘The Pub in the Digital Age’
  • Publicans now have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as Youtube channels and are offering fantastic entertainment for their customers
  • Government led initiatives like The The Wild Atlantic Way this year have allowed the pub to play a central role
  • As other services like Post Offices, Tourist Offices and Garda Stations are being closed there will be a further reliance on pubs in many areas for essential services.

Economic Benefit Of The Pub

  • Of the 92,000 jobs supported by the drinks industry, employment level in the on-licence sector is at over 50,000 people. Meanwhile, the average pub employs 6 people. In County Limerick alone, 3,558 jobs depend on the drinks industry.
  • The estimated wage bill total of the on-license sector is calculated at €1.19billion resulting in a significant contribution to the exchequer.
  • In the local economy, 64% of VFI pubs turn to local suppliers for produce while the pub trade supports over 7,000 family enterprises. Average spend per pub on capital and refurbishment is €23,000 per annum benefitting local tradesmen, carpenters, electricians and other trades.
  • VFI pubs alone are involved in supporting local teams and events to the tune of €1,726 per publican while annual support by VFI members towards local sports teams and events is just short of €3.5m. In total, almost 50% (49%) of VFI members are currently supporting a local sports club or outdoor event

Tourism and The Pub

  • A good summer has been had and there are continued signs that the pub is turning a corner
  • While tourists both domestic and international will head for sea side destinations during the summer months. The Irish pub is the number one tourist attraction.
  • The pub will continue to play a huge role in tourism and tourism will continue to be huge for the pub
  • The recently launched Wild Atlantic Way is a case in point as the pub will be central to most of the offering along this way. We are seeing this already along this way.
  • Pubs across Ireland boast wonderful food, entertainment and world famous atmosphere and these assets become even more apparent during the summer months.
  • The pub is a widely used facility for meals by overseas tourists. It is an extensively available source of hospitality, personal services, food and information which is provided without any government support.
  • 80% of overseas visitors in 2013 mentioned the pub as one the potential experiences influencing them to choose Ireland. This was the top ranked item.
  • 83% of overseas visitors said “listening to Irish music in a pub” was one of their visit activities while 79% tasted a Guinness. Tourists overall make up 23% of customers in Irish pubs.
  • The vast regional spread of public houses and other licensed premises facilitates the geographic spread of tourism and supports regional development.
  • We are enjoying a strong influx of tourists here in our area (Ferns, Wexford) and that is reflected in our turnover.