Cork publican condemns rowdy scenes at Dublin venue as a ‘kick in the gut’

Cork publican condemns rowdy scenes at Dublin venue as a ‘kick in the gut’
Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork CityPicture: Eddie O'Hare

A CORK publican has condemned the rowdy footage in a Dublin venue which emerged over the weekend as a “kick in the gut” to publicans everywhere.

On Saturday evening, footage of a crowded Berlin D2 on Dame Lane appeared on social media.

The footage showed a bartender standing on a height pouring drink from a bottle into several people's mouths.

The video was labelled as “shameful” by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris whilst Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it was 'sickening'.

The proprietor of the venue, Jay Bourke told Morning Ireland that whilst he was embarrassed and appalled by the video, it did not fully reflect what happened in the bar on Saturday.

"It was just a mad moment, 20-seconds of madness", he said.

Speaking to The Echo, 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 he was completely appalled by the video, which emerged on the first day of an important campaign launched by the VFI in association with the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA).

The VFI and the LVA on Saturday launched the #SupportNotSympathy campaign calling on the Government to provide a strong support package for pubs that are unable to open.

“The footage emerged on the night the campaign launched.

“We picked Saturday because it marked five months since the day we closed and to have the footage come out, to a publican that’s closed, it was a kick in the gut.

“Even for the pubs that are open, it was very disappointing to see those pictures and the video footage. The guidelines are there to be followed for all who are open,” Mr O’Donovan said.

The national campaign, which has received a lot of traction online, aims to highlight the value of pubs in local communities.

“Pubs are at the heart of most communities and whilst they are a business, there is also a family behind them and it affects families with pubs not being able to trade at the moment,” Mr O’Donovan explained.

Yesterday, 45 publicans met with a number of local representatives in Soho Bar & Restaurant to discuss their concerns.

“We had good engagement and publicans of Cork were able to voice their opinion and hopefully the sentiment and the message will be taken back to the Cabinet table in the coming days and weeks.” 

Mr O’Donovan said vintners groups are not optimistic pubs will be allowed reopen at the end of August in light of recent Covid trends.

“For many pubs they will have missed their summer trading period and they won’t have any reserve built up to survive the winter months without a support package,” he said.

"A lot of publicans that met those politicians today are second or third generation publicans.

“The vast majority are in business well over 20 years and we have never experienced anything like this.

“It’s very difficult when there isn’t any clarity. We don’t know what’s going to happen with this virus.

“At least if the Government were able to give us a support package, we could know that we could survive for the next couple of months with it and then readdress in the new year where we go from there.

“Without a support package, it will be incredibly difficult. A lot of pubs won’t survive,” he continued.

Mr O’Donovan said a lot of the VFI’s members are over the age of 66 and are “the forgotten people of this pandemic”.

“They’ve paid the VAT, the PRSI all their lives and for the last five months they have been surviving on their old age pension. They’ve had to pay their bills for the bar.

“The staff are really looked after, as they should be by government, but the over 66s have been forgotten about.

“We’re calling on the Government if they have a VAT number and paid VAT up until now that surely they will be able to subsidise their old age pension and bring them level with the Covid payment.

“That’s what we’re asking for and we’re looking to get that backdated to March 15 because a lot of these people have been using their personal savings, which is their security for when they retire, and for the last five months they have been eating into that pension pot to pay the bills,” he said.

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