Sales of food and drink in messes at military barracks are continuing to fall, despite offering pints of beer for as little as €3.20.
The latest accounts of the Defence Forces Canteen Board show revenue at the 45 bars and canteens located on Defence Forces property decreased by 6.4% last year to €1.48m.
Following several years of falling income, the board’s chairman, Major General Seán Clancy, has also warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on its finances this year.
“The board is taking the situation seriously and is monitoring cash flow projections, in conjunction with management,” he added.
The latest figures show gross profit of the Defence forces Canteen Board fell by 6.4% to €439.607.
The board returned €317,775 in profit to the messes last year following deductions for salaries and administration expenses and reported a net surplus of €17,165.
Gross profit as a measure of sales was unchanged at 29.7% which the board said was considered “satisfactory”.
Sales of alcohol and food in the military bars and canteens have been declining steadily over the past two decades, despite drink prices that are considerably cheaper than pubs and restaurants.
The price of a pint of Guinness or Heineken or Budweiser is only €3.20 while a measure of whiskey is just €2.20.
In contrast, a pint of lager in Dublin pubs can cost around €5.80 while a measure of whiskey is around €4.80.
Messes for private soldiers were informally established in 1990 as a result of the report of the Gleeson Commission on pay and conditions in the Defence Forces and put on a formal footing in 1997.
Around 20 messes have been shut down in the past 20 years, while four dry canteens were closed in 2013 due to falling sales.
According to the Defence Forces, messes are not public premises but civilians may attend as guests of enlisted personnel.