Cork publican: 'There is no light at the end of the tunnel for us'

Cork publican: 'There is no light at the end of the tunnel for us'
Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork CityPicture: Eddie O'Hare

PUBLICANS have voiced grave concern for the future of the industry and say there are pubs in Cork which will not survive the pandemic.

Michael O’Donovan owner of the Castle Inn on Cork's South Main Street and Cork City chair of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said pubs had become “the sector of society that the warning shots are being sent through us to remind the public of what to do” during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel for us at this stage because we don't know what’s going to happen again in another three weeks,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan said he was devastated at the Government’s decision not to allow pubs to re-open for at least another three weeks.

“We understand the public health is the number one priority,” he said.

He added, however, “there is a lot of anger among publicans across the county here in Cork that we have such a low number of Covid cases here in Cork and we’re still not being allowed to re-open our premises.

“It’s very frustrating.” 

Pictured Acting Chief Medical Officer Dept of Health Dr Ronan Glynn, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, Taniaste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD and An Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD leaving Cabinet at Dublin Castle this evening. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Pictured Acting Chief Medical Officer Dept of Health Dr Ronan Glynn, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, Taniaste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD and An Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD leaving Cabinet at Dublin Castle this evening. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Cork City chair of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said publicans in Cork were facing a number of serious challenges in the weeks ahead, not least the end of the bank moratorium on loan repayments.

“Lots of bars won't have a cash flow to pay those loans.

“We’ll be telling our members to talk with their financial institutions in the coming days and try and get some bit of agreement,” he said.

Some publicans had taken their staff back on three weeks ago, he said, and were now facing difficulties transferring them back to the pandemic payment from the wage subsidy scheme.

Stock is another source of concern for publicans.

“Some publicans got stock three weeks ago and had that stock in the hopes of re-opening next week, and in another three weeks a lot of that stock will be spoiled,” Mr O’Donovan added.

The Cork City chair of the VFI said publicans are beginning to feel the strain.

“I spoke to one on Bank Holiday Monday, he is here in county Cork, and the man was crying on the phone to me because he’s so afraid to lose his business,” Mr O’Donovan.

Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork CityPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork CityPicture: Eddie O'Hare

The situation is particularly difficult for those who depend on summer trade.

“For those that depend on a summer trade, for the summer months of June, July and August, that now is being taken away.

“For some of those pubs I would really fear that they may not survive to next summer,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan said that the VFI will be calling on the Government to step in and “to really have a serious look at a financial compensation package for the publicans of Ireland.” 

Meanwhile, John O'Connor, publican at An Spailpín Fánach on South Main St said he was disappointed with the announcement but he now believed that the Government should go back to phase two of the plan to try to eliminate coronavirus.

“It is unfair. They closed us all together, they should open us all together,” he said.

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