The chairman of the association Michael Foley said the wine sector cannot continue to carry restaurants if the Government places huge tax bills on it.
“In terms of tourism, we all know wine is a key source of profitability for restaurants. At present one restaurant per day is closing in Ireland, while 80% operate at a loss. This is clearly a vulnerable sector and if the Government continues to impose huge increases in wine excise, it cannot expect the wine sector to remain capable of supporting the 1,711 restaurants with wine licences and 413 others with full licences,” he said.
Wine was singled out in last year’s budget from spirits and beer and levied with a 41% excise increase. Wine alone now accounts for 27% of the total alcohol excise collected.
Mr Foley said the large excise increase introduced by the Government at the end of 2012 was significantly higher than the increases imposed on any other alcohol beverage category. The reversal of this unfair increase and the protection of the sector is crucial for many small, family-run businesses and for the Irish hospitality sector, which employs 10% of the national workforce.
Mr Foley said the sector cannot contribute to the Irish economic recovery while it is burdened by disproportionate duty which drives shoppers across the border to the North.
“The large increase in excise introduced at the end of 2012 makes it nearly impossible for the sector to effectively contribute to the recovery of the Irish economy,” he said.