Budget 2022: Vintners need ‘clarity, certainty and support’

Budget 2022: Vintners need ‘clarity, certainty and support’

Michael O'Donovan, of The Castle Inn, South Main Street. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“CLARITY, certainty and support” is needed for the hospitality industry in Budget 2022 to make it through the year, Cork city chairperson of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has said.

The Castle Inn publican Michael O’Donovan said: “It’s been 18 difficult months, costs are rising and we are just getting back on our feet.

“We are still at a reduced capacity and we need more staff to cover a shift.

“We need a commitment from government that the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is extended until Summer 2022 and that commerical rates are waivered until at least Quarter one of next year (Spring 2022).

“The EWSS is keeping doors open and lights on, it is a lifeline to the industry, there would be a crippling effect if the EWSS is removed, it is a necessity,” the VFI rep said.

“Without the EWSS and the rates, there will be a huge financial hole created,” he added.

Mr O’Donovan also called for the outdoor furniture fees to be waived in order for businesses to recoup large capital investments made in outdoor dining.

The Cork VFI rep also said that additional initiatives need to be created for non-EU individuals to apply to work in Ireland within the industry.

Mr O’Donovan said that a lack of staff is a real problem and work needed to be done to make the application process more streamlined and accessible.

The Castle Inn publican also said it would be a good idea to set up an apprenticeship programme for young people who want to get started in the sector out of secondary school.

Mr O’Donovan said the impact of the budget on the entire hospitality sector is crucial going forward.

“Hotels, bars, restaurants, we all need this to go our way,” Mr O’Donovan said.

“We are at a crossroads and we need a business-friendly budget to survive.”

The Cork city publican emphasised the importance of maintaining the hospitality industry in its purest form.

“The pub is an integral part of the Irish culture and tradition, whenever tourists come to Ireland we hear about how they like going to the pub for a bit of music, seeing the fire lighting and chatting to the locals.

“It generates so many jobs, in rural Ireland, the pub is probably the main employer in lots of communities.

“We have lost the post office, we have lost shops, if we were to lose the pub it would be the heartbeat the community taken away.

“The pub is the last bastion in a lot of these areas, so the pub needs to be protected.”

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