Pubs must adapt to 'rapidly changing' drinking habits

A publican lobby group has warned of "rapidly changing" consumer drinking habits to which the industry must adapt.

At the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) agm in Cork, chief executive Padraig Cribben said publicans must adapt to younger audiences with a "very different outlook on life", with the number of non-drinkers spiking rapidly in a decade.

The amount of teetotal 18 to 25-year-olds has risen from 18% to 29% in a decade, Mr Cribben said.

He said publicans must also be cognisant of drinkers who were now looking for the "couch and Netflix" night in, as well as gym-goers and active people.

It was a challenge for the industry to flip the "serious negative perception" of alcohol, Mr Cribben said, with the industry, suppliers and retailers all having a part to play.

The Cork branch of the VFI had a motion passed calling for the Government to put a cap on insurance claim payouts in line with international norms.

Cork delegate Michael Farrell claimed the insurance industry and legal system were presiding over "a runaway gravy train" which was leading to businesses all over Ireland closing because of escalating and disproportionate premiums and payouts.

Mr Farrell's call for reform of the book of quantum -- the guidelines for injury payouts -- to be put to the people by way of referendum received almost unanimous approval from VFI members.

A referendum "was the only way" to take the capping of payouts away from the legal and insurance industry and enshrining it into law, who have invariably stalled badly-needed reform, Mr Farrell claimed.

A bill is currently in the legislative process, having been passed by the Seanad last month.

However, Mr Farrell said action to target high premiums had not happened despite "begging politicians" for help. There were too many vested interests, and a referendum was the only solution, he said.

Earlier, Mr Cribben claimed that gardaí are "targeting the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time" with new legislation targeting drink driving.

The chief executive hit out at the increase in Vat from 9% to 13.5% in last year's Budget, claiming it "made no sense" as businesses "outside of the M50" were being disproportionately penalised.

He said the industry should brace for more added charges and taxes in this year's Budget with the Government "needing to make money because there is nothing left to play with in the public finances".

He called for an Uber-style transport initiative for rural Ireland based on community involvement.

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