That is the conservative estimate being placed on the losses felt by the sector by the Restaurant Association of Ireland via its annual call for the abolishment of what it refers to as an “unacceptable” law “at such a busy time for the tourism, restaurant and hospitality industry”.
According to the association’s chief executive Adrian Cummins it is simply too unprofitable for any restaurant to open without the ability to also serve alcohol to guests.
“This law affects more than just the diners who want a drink, it affects thousands of restaurant employees on a busy weekend when restaurants simply won’t open.
“It is unacceptable to have this archaic ban in place on religious grounds, especially in the multi-cultural and multi-religious society that Ireland has become.
“Aside from the law showing a 19th-century image of Ireland to incoming tourists, many restaurants decide to close their doors on Good Friday,” Mr Cummins said.
The association has previously lobbied the Government on the matter and claims that 18 months ago Justice Minister, Alan Shatter said he would alter the Intoxicating Liquor Act to make the law more favourable for restaurants at this time of year.
“Ireland must be the only country in the world that has a bank holiday weekend and actually chooses to close the tourist attractions it is best known for — the centres of craic and ceol — the restaurants and pubs of the country. Even the Vatican City doesn’t obey this ridiculous law,” Mr Cummins added.
Much of the frustration felt by the restaurant sector stems from loopholes in the law that allow for alcohol to be served on some forms of public transport, in hotels (as long as it forms part of a meal) and certain sporting events.
According to Mr Cummins: “These businesses are working the law and using it to their advantage, why shouldn’t restaurants?
“It’s tough for all businesses relying on customers to part with their well-earned cash on a long weekend. They cannot afford to open without serving alcohol, and they definitely cannot afford to close either,” he added.