Tom Scriven, head of the Rebel Bar Group, explored the idea of opening a “Traveller-friendly” pub in the Cork city area but, while researching the project, he was told the TVG opposed the move as it would “widen the divide between Travellers and the settled community”.
Scriven runs several pubs in Cork city and county, including the successful ‘gay-friendly’ Instinct bar off St Patrick Street and the Beer Garden in Turner’s Cross which has a policy of serving alcohol at low prices.
“This wasn’t an off-the-cuff idea,” said Mr Scriven. “I always research any prospective project and, frankly, I was stunned when the idea was shot down by the TVG.
“I am always looking for new business opportunities and I thought there was a definite market there for a Traveller-friendly pub.
“It is well known that Travellers have difficulty getting served, as we saw recently when nearly all the pubs in Youghal shut their doors because of two Traveller weddings taking place in the town and, in the end, there was no trouble,” he added.
“My idea was for a place Travellers could go to enjoy a drink in comfort without fear of being refused.”
However, Dave McCarthy, outreach worker for the TVG, said the idea was a “non-runner” as far as they were concerned.
“I do not know if Mr Scriven’s motives were based on human rights or profit but we are completely against the idea,” he said.
“We want to see the Travelling community integrated into Irish society and, if you open a pub for Travellers, very few settled people would go there and it would further set the Travelling community apart.
“Also, I would be surprised if this was viable from a commercial point of view. The percentage of Travellers to the settled community is very small and they drink in their local pubs. A taxi fare to a particular pub would be an extra expense many of them could not afford,” he added.
McCarthy also pointed out that such a pub could be a point of conflict for Traveller families.
“Travellers tend to drink in places where they know they will not run into certain other families.
Having a meeting point for all Traveller families would have been a bad idea.”
However, Scriven continues to believe the move would have been beneficial for Travellers.
“Why should Travellers object to their own pub when the gay community does not?”