A leading publican has claimed Cork City centre is “dying at night” due to the excessive cost of late-night bar extensions.
Con Dennehy, chairman of County Cork VFI (Vintners’ Federation of Ireland) said many small bar owners who would love to have late opening cannot afford the fees — which can top €430.
He said the lack of late-night bar facilities was causing the city to lose even more short-break tourists to other destinations.
He said the Government recently doubled the cost of license extensions and claimed this was having a detrimental affect on visitor numbers.
“When you include the cost of sending a solicitor to court, it works out at about €430 to get a one-hour extension. This has led to bars that used to have extensions closing earlier and it doesn’t help in attracting people into the city centre. On a nighttime basis the city centre is dying,” Mr Dennehy said.
The publican, who owns Dennehy’s bar on Cornmarket Street, and represents 750 licenses in the city and county, said he didn’t operate a late licence and had no wish to so. However, he said there was definitely a demand from visitors for late-hour drinks.
“We have to compete as a destination for short-break holidays against other Irish and European cities. Bars in Dublin are allowed to open until 3am. Cities like Galway and Kilkenny also have a lot of late-night opening and we have to be as hospitality friendly as them and other European cities to attract tourists.”
He said the Government needs to re-examine the trading hours for pubs and clubs and relax restrictions to ensure Cork can remain a destination city for tourists.
“Minister for Justice Alan Shatter needs to look at more flexibility on opening times and reduce the cost of licence extensions. Any city which wants to attract tourists has to have late-night venues for entertainment. We’re now not in a position to compete with Dublin or Limerick, or London or Paris,” Mr Dennehy said.
He added that many European cities allowed late-night opening not just to facilitate tourists but also for those who worked in the entertainment and hospitality sector to allow them have a few drinks after work.
“If there are policing issues involved in allowing late-night opening then the gardaí should be provided with the proper resources to deal with them,” he added.
Meanwhile, the VFI has mooted at a recent Cork Business Association (CBA) meeting that there needed to be a more concerted effort to attract tourists by offering them discount vouchers.
“Our bars, clubs, hotels, shops and restaurants have to create a package. There should be a team effort adopted. They must think outside the box,” Mr Dennehy said.
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