Pub hits out at ban on cheaper pints

A well-known Dublin pub today hit out at a law preventing it selling cheaper pints to regular customers during the afternoon.

A well-known Dublin pub today hit out at a law preventing it selling cheaper pints to regular customers during the afternoon.

Southside watering hole The Portobello was ordered to scrap its €4-a-pint deal between 3pm and 7pm because it breached rules outlawing ’happy hours’.

The drinks industry’s own watchdog Meas upheld a complaint from a member of the public against the bar, but threw out a separate complaint against a Dublin club offering all drinks for €2 on Saturdays.

The Burn Beach night spot ran its all-day cheap drinks offer in May which was billed as ’2 IS HOT’.

Paul Slevin, manager of the Portobello Bar, said the ruling was ridiculous and made a mockery of the alcohol promotion laws brought in to curb binge drinking.

“The logic behind it is beyond me,” he said.

“Technically, they think we are promoting binge drinking when we’re doing nothing of the sort. We are just trying to keep our business afloat – people can see for themselves how many businesses are going bust now.

“We’re just trying to get a few extra bodies in the door, keep people in jobs and just keep the business going.”

Mr Slevin said their afternoon deal was popular with old age pensioners living in a nearby sheltered housing scheme, local residents on their day off and city workers dropping in for a quiet pint on their way home.

“Nightclubs are running promotions Friday, Saturday and Sunday where all drinks are €2,” he said.

“To me that’s an offer to get people in, get them drunk and send them home - that’s more irresponsible.”

Meas rejected a complaint against the Burn Beach Club in Stillorgan regarding its recent promotion offering all drinks for €2 on Saturdays.

Because the offer ran all day it did not constitute a ’happy hour’ and there was no legal requirement for the nightclub owners to carry a responsible drinking message on its promotional advertisements, the watchdog ruled.

Meas said it was unclear what message was being conveyed by the “2 IS HOT” text over the image of two girls, but insisted it did not breach a code banning images that linked drinking with sexual success.

Mr Slevin said the laws needed tweaking to allow regular pubs to drum up trade, particularly during the recession and at a time when supermarkets and off-licences were offering massive cut-price promotions on alcoholic drinks.

The 33-year-old bar manager said The Portobello may be forced to lay off staff by having to scrap its promotion, while every other industry in the country was slashing prices to survive.

The pub expects to lose as many as 25 customers and hundreds of euro a day by reverting to its normal prices (€4.55 for stout and €4.90 for lager) in the afternoon.

“It might not sound like much but that could pay the wages of two staff over the course of a week,” he said.

“With the way the economy is now, all we are trying to do is get a few customers through the door and spend a bit of money.

“It’s hard to swallow to be honest.”

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