1,535 fewer pubs in Ireland than 2005 with greatest number of closures in Cork

1,535 fewer pubs in Ireland than 2005 with greatest number of closures in Cork

There are 1,535 fewer pubs in the country than in 2005 with a further 71 shutting last year.

The greatest number of closures in the past 13 years have been in Cork, falling from 1,221 to 908, a 25.6% decrease.

By contrast, Dublin city and county has lost just 10 pubs in the same period, dropping from 786 to 776.

1,535 fewer pubs in Ireland than 2005 with greatest number of closures in Cork

The overall figure is a stark reminder of the pub's continued decline in rural Ireland which has borne the brunt of the closures. Over the past 13 years, 20% of rural pubs have closed, many shutting their doors during the recession.

The figures obtained from the Revenue Commissioners were analysed by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI).

It found that Tipperary suffered the loss of 118 pubs over the same period, which was 22.5% of its total, while Mayo lost 98 hostelries, representing a 21% decrease.

The picture was far different nearer to the capital where there are larger populations to support the industry. Among the lowest decline in pub numbers reported were in Wicklow (-1.9%), Meath (-2.4%) and Kildare (-9.9%).

According to recent research conducted among 400 publicans by DIGI, more than three-quarters (77%) say their business plays an important part in providing a place for local people to come together for family occasions, like birthdays, christenings and funerals.

In total 68% of publicans surveyed say that their business sponsors a local team, charity or community group, while 63% say their pub provides a space for elderly people living in isolation to socialise with others.

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) said the decline in rural pubs "is hugely worrying".

“In Limerick alone, hospitality and drinks businesses enable 6,997 jobs while in Meath, there are 205 pubs and 4,268 jobs supported by the industry. This demonstrates the scale of employment that this sector creates rurally," Mr Cribben said.

The majority of low-earning pubs are located in rural Ireland and DIGI said they are particularly vulnerable to taxation policy, any sudden tax increases, any decline in inward tourism and economic uncertainty.

The high cost of alcohol excise tax remains a source of significant concern for rural publicans and, indeed, hoteliers, restauranteurs, off-licence owners, and other drinks and hospitality business proprietors.

“Ireland’s rural pubs have been on a steady decline for years, despite their immense importance and contribution to local communities across the country," DIGI chairman Rosemary Garth said."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."

Ireland’s rate of excise on wine is 25% higher than any other country in the EU, while the excise rate on spirits is 26% higher than Britain.

For example, €11.92 of a 70cl bottle of Irish-produced whiskey bought in an Irish off-licence, goes to the Government on excise tax; that is before VAT is applied.

That excise figure is 75% less if you buy the same bottle of whiskey in Italy.

DIGI chairman Rosemary Garth said that with the now very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit, government action and support has never been more important.

She said for pubs in rural or isolated areas, the extremely high cost of alcohol excise tax puts them in a precarious position, limiting their ability to trade more successfully, continue to attract tourism and to invest in their business.

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