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Charlie O Meara, Clare VFI chair, accompanied by Darragh McAllister, addressing Cathal Crowe, TD, during a protestin 2020.

Warning that more Clare pubs will close without Budget support

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THE Clare chairman of the Vinters Federation of Ireland (VFI) has warned that without State support in the upcoming budget there will be more pub closures.

Ninety-two pubs closed in Clare between 2005 and 2021, almost a quarter of the total number, figures from the VFI show.

Ennis publican Charlie O’Meara told the Champion, “After two difficult years of lockdown we really needed a bit of stability for a couple of years, just to get people back on track again.

“Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, and over the last number of weeks we’re seeing serious pressure on pubs. The biggest thing is the energy costs, we’d be calling on the Government to give us some break in the budget.

“It’d have been great to see a cap on electricity prices, but that’s not going to happen. Something like what they did in Covid, to give a waiver on rates, that’s something we’d be calling for.”

Should backing not be forthcoming, more pubs will close permanently, Charlie feels.

“Unless we get some bit of support in the next budget, a lot of businesses will pull the plug on it unfortunately.”

Charlie, who runs O’Dea’s on O’Connell Street in Ennis, said that the long closures brought about by Covid have already seen off a number of bars.

“A lot of pubs didn’t reopen, and an awful lot are finding it hard to keep going for the week, they’re closing three or four nights a week. Unfortunately it’s just not viable any more for them and we’re going to see a lot more of that.”

He said many Clare pubs do food now, and if VAT goes back to 13.5%, it’d be a serious blow.

“I don’t think it’s fair to hammer people with that again, especially the way things are at the moment. Unfortunately the pubs aren’t going to be able to carry it, they’ll have to pass it on to the consumer.”

Obviously the wider public are feeling the impact of far higher prices across the economy, and he says that will limit the amount of socialising people do.

“There was research this week and 42% of people are saying they’re going to reduce their visits to the pub up until Christmas, some say they won’t go at all.

“Some pubs are closing two or three days a week and there’s concern you’ll see a lot of pubs closed for even longer, because it just won’t be viable to keep them open.

“Unfortunately we’ll see a lot of pubs that’ll just say it’s no longer viable to stay open full stop and they’ll pull the plug.”

He said that there was a great level of support provided to pubs to get through Covid, and there should be some further help for those that came through it.

“It’d be madness to let these businesses go to the wall that have survived these last couple of years.”

Owen Ryan
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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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