The drinks and hospitality industry provides more than 200,000 jobs according to a study released to coincide with a campaign to promote local pubs and restaurants.
However, a charity that works for alcohol-related issues , said that while it does not dispute the contribution the drinks industry makes to economies, further supports to local communities are needed through legislating to counter the damage inflicted by alcohol misuse.
The Hospitality in Dáil Constituencies Report 2016, compiled by Dublin City University economist Tony Foley and commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, sought to put a value on the direct value of the drinks industry in Ireland, and the indirect employment generated by the production and sale of alcoholic products.
Mr Foley’s report finds that there are 7,193 pubs, 3,233 off licences, 631 licenced hotels, and 2,406 licenced restaurants across Ireland and that the hospitality sector has a combined turnover of €7.1bn.
The report further states that drinks manufacturing companies purchased €884m in materials last year, including agricultural products and €564m in services purchases. “The national economic impact of the drinks industry and wider hospitality sector is substantial,” said Mr Foley.
“Of note is the fact that the drinks industry and wider hospitality sector makes a significant contribution to the economic life of towns and villages outside of urban centres.
“This is supported by the vast network of pubs, restaurants, hotels, and independent off-licences which have a presence in every constituency across Ireland.”
The report breaks down the number of pubs, restaurants, off licences, and hotels in each Dáil constituency and estimates the contribution drinks industry makes in terms of the number of jobs and the amount of wages paid to those benefitting from the industry.
However, the national charity for alcohol-related issues said while it does not dispute the contribution made by the drinks industry to the economy, it said any balanced discussion needs to also take into account the cost of alcohol abuse to the exchequer, and the toll it takes on Irish society.
Alcohol Action Ireland highlighted a report that states that alcohol misuse cost the exchequer over €2.3bn in 2013, in terms of the cost to the healthcare system, and costs brought about through alcohol-related crime, road traffic accidents, workplace absenteeism and accidents, suicides, and premature fatalities.
“We should support our local communities by legislating to reduce alcohol harm,” said Conor Cullen of Alcohol Action Ireland.
“This isn’t just about health gains though. To continue to allow vested interests dictate health policy in this country does not make economic sense either.
“The health service simply can’t cope with our chronic disease crisis and, with an ageing population, it is also a serious threat to our recovering economy and is deepening existing inequalities. The poorer you are, the greater your chance of ill-health and the worse your health outcomes.”
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