Transport and Tourism Minister Shane Ross conceded he will return to Dublin with a better understanding of rural Ireland after a whirlwind “two-day” tour of Kerry — with Michael Healy-Rae escorting him.
The Dublin Rathdown TD spoke after visiting the Department of Tourism and Sport offices in Killarney.
Kerry vintners, he said, were seeking his support for tax incentives for providing accommodation in very remote bars, but he dispelled any notion the proposal was to allow patrons ‘sleep it off after a feed of drink’, quickly responding, “No, we are not going to encourage that!”
Rather, it was a proposal to offer more facilities and attract tourists into rural areas.
“We get accused sometimes, if we are from Dublin, that people say look we don’t understand rural life. That’s why I am here meeting the vintners and others because Michael Healy-Rae asked me to come down,” he said.
The vintners meeting with Mr Ross at the Horse Shoe bar in Listowel had been “a very constructive and mature meeting”, Mr Ross said, and he had a better understanding from them of the problems of rural pubs, where business was slow.
“They certainly talked about incentives for accommodation and the 9% Vat rate for hospitality,” Mr Ross said. Keeping the Vat rate was very important, he said.
Mr Ross was also told providing rural transport to and from very rural pubs would be difficult.
“It has been a very, very, useful visit particularly to do two days in Kerry,” said the minister, who also met groups seeking funding for Valentia Island ferry, along with Kerry Co Council executive staff, and hoteliers John and Francis Brennan in Kenmare.
“I am now much more familiar as a result of Michael driving me around and taking me around to various places with problems in rural Ireland, particularly in Kerry,” he said.
“Killarney is one of the jewels of Irish tourism and it is important to spend time in Kerry.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved