Clare publicans protested at the offices of the county’s two Government TDs on Monday morning to highlight the plight endured by pub owners over the past six months.
Members of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) in the county gathered at the constituency offices of Cathal Crowe (FF) and Joe Carey (FG) on Francis St in Ennis from 10am on Monday morning. Up to 32 publicans attended the demonstration. A letter calling on the Government to act was presented to both Deputy Crowe and Deputy Carey.
Walking with signs stating that they had been ‘abandoned by Government’, they attempted to highlight the plight of the hundreds of small business owners in the pub trade who have been forcibly closed as a result of COVID-19. They have calculated that up to 700 jobs in the county are at risk.
Chair of the Clare VFI, Darragh McAllister outlined that they wished to the final guidelines for the opening of pubs published and to have a definitive date to allow for necessary preparations. “The pub trade has been treated shamefully unfairly by a government which clearly cares little or nothing about the small and medium businesses which form the backbone of our economy and the heart of our communities”.
Addressing the pub owners, Deputy Crowe expressed his belief that they should not be held in the same bracket as night clubs and casinos. He was confident that a date to reopen would be provided when new guidelines were published this Sunday. “I am sorry that ye have become the fall guys,” he commented. The Meelick native admitted that the term ‘wet pubs’ was “ridiculous” and that a €9 meal was not going to stop someone from contracting COVID-19.
“It is imperative that we get a date with no alteration. We’ve had so many false dawns, it is beyond a joke,” Ennis publican Charlie O’Meara stated. He added that further “mixed messages” were not making the lives of pub owners any better.
Deputy Carey told the gathering that he had spoken to Tanáiste Leo Varadkar (FG) on the matter and that he intended to raise it in Dáil Éireann this coming week. “I accept the fact that you need a date”. He outlined that a roadmap was to be published but praised the Clare VFI for their efforts. “Well done on this campaign, it is not over yet”.