Cork cafe owner: Minister 'hanging us out to dry'

Cork cafe owner: Minister 'hanging us out to dry'
Richard Jacob, Idaho Cafe, Caroline Street, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

A CORK city restauranteur has called on Minister for Tourism Shane Ross to resign following the tourism Vat increase announced in Budget 2019.

Richard Jacob at the award-winning Idaho Cafe, Caroline Street, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Richard Jacob at the award-winning Idaho Cafe, Caroline Street, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Richard Jacob, the owner of the Idaho Cafe on Caroline Street, said: “A Minister, who is supposed to represent tourism, is not doing that if he allows this to happen.

“A minister who lets us become nearly 5% more expensive overnight, at the stroke of a pen, isn’t doing his job. He is hanging us out to dry.”

Mr Jacob was among a number of people within the industry calling for Minister Ross to resign following the Budget announcement yesterday of a Vat increase from 9% to 13.5% for the hospitality trade.

The move will impact cafes, restaurants and bars that sell food, in addition to hotels. Only newspapers and sports facilities were retained at the 9% Vat rate.

Tourism Minister Shane Ross, who is under fire after the VAT increase.
Tourism Minister Shane Ross, who is under fire after the VAT increase.

Mr Jacob said: “For us as a small café, this is an unfair tax on top of other unfair taxes. It is a tax on our customers. You have paid your PAYE, your USC, your PRSI. Then you walk into a café and have to give another 4.5% to the Government — because they can. Instead of addressing waste, they just say they will hit the ordinary people of Ireland.”

He feels small businesses are being unfairly treated because they are nominally in the same industry as high-priced Dublin hotels.

“You can’t compare us with a five-star hotel in Dublin,” he said. “We don’t put up our rates because it is Saturday or because there’s a concert on.”

Michael O'Donovan, Cork secretary of the Vintners Federation of Ireland and the owner of the Castle Inn.Picture: David Keane.
Michael O'Donovan, Cork secretary of the Vintners Federation of Ireland and the owner of the Castle Inn.Picture: David Keane.

Michael O’Donovan, of The Castle Inn — who is Cork Secretary of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland — also questioned Minister Ross’s position.

“He has to have a serious look at himself, everything he has done has undermined our work of the last nine or 10 years.”

He said vintners and those in the regions had hoped the Government would tackle high Dublin prices with a bedroom tax or another innovation, and added: “This was a broad stroke against everybody. There is no doubt it will affect jobs, and the number of European visitors we have coming in the next 12 or 18 months.”

Fellow publican Benny McCabe also criticised the decision, saying it was the wrong time for it to happen.

“Tourists are so sensitive to price change and doing this so close to Brexit is a folly,” he said.

“In a couple of years it would be the correct thing to do, but not now. By all means attack the higher hotel rates but how that transfers to a coffee shop in Ballincollig is beyond me,” he said.

Mr McCabe and Mr O’Donovan both welcomed the fact that there was no increase in duty on alcohol, although Mr O’Donovan said a reduction would have set offset the pain of the Vat increase.

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