ALMOST one in four of the Banner’s pubs closed down between 2005 and 2018.
This week, the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) produced figures for the amount of pubs operating in each of the 26 counties in the Republic in 2005 and 2018.
In the year 2005, as the Irish economy boomed, Clare had 373 pubs. However, last year the figure was down to 289, a drop of 22.5%.
During the years in question, pubs had to deal with greater enforcement of drink driving and lower alcohol limits, as well as a very severe recession, while the smoking ban was introduced just nine months before the start of 2005.
According to DIGI, the drinks and hospitality sector in Clare still enables 6,682 jobs and €285 million in tourism spend.
The average county saw its number of pubs decline by 17.9%, so Clare is on the high side.
Limerick was worst hit, with 27.8% of pubs closing and Dublin did best, losing just 10 pubs over the 14 years, a decline of only 1.3%.
Rosemary Garth, Chair of DIGI, said, “Ireland’s rural pubs have been on a steady decline for years, despite their immense importance and contribution to local communities across the country. Our high alcohol excise tax has played a role in this. DIGI is calling on the Government to take action to protect a vulnerable part of the Irish economy from further collapse by reducing alcohol excise tax by 15% over the next two years.
“Easing the financial burden of excise tax over a two-year period is a clear signal of support and encouragement to these businesses in a time of economic uncertainty. With the now very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit, Government action and support have never been more important.”
Pádraig Cribben, DIGI member and CEO at Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, said, “The number of rural pubs are down
20% in the period from 2005 to 2018, which is hugely worrying. This equates to 1,535 rural pubs, which are businesses that provide jobs, a hub in the local community for socialising and community integration and a cultural powerhouse, which is among the main attractions for tourists visiting Ireland.”
He added, “Considering this sharp decline in the number of pubs, we need to monitor this industry and ensure the necessary supports are in place to reverse this trend.
“We are calling on the Government to reduce excise tax to encourage the growth of our drinks and hospitality sector, return money to Irish consumers and make Ireland more competitive internationally, particularly ahead of a no-deal Brexit,” Mr Cribben concluded.