Pub trade is getting nothing but ‘kicks up the rear’

Dave Hickey, South's Pub, Limerick. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

ONE of Limerick’s most iconic pubs, which has been closed since lockdown started in March, is to reopen next Monday.

But publican at city pub, South’s, Dave Hickey, says the trade is getting nothing but “kicks up the rear” from the Government when it comes to supporting the trade.

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A “huge amount” of money has been spent at South’s so that they can now serve food in the evening as well as the lunches which were the norm.

“We’ve remodelled our kitchens. Otherwise we would have had to close at 3pm once the lunch trade was over,” Dave told the Limerick Post.

“But we (the pub trade) are not being helped at all. Ours is a professional organisation and we collect millions every year in tax revenue for the government, we employ 60,000 people but all we’re getting is phone calls from people who want to be paid,” he said.

“We have commitments – to our staff to our suppliers, to the banks – how can anyone honour those commitments when there’s no money coming in? How would the Taoiseach like it if he had to do without his salary for five months?”

Dave says he is concerned “particularly for smaller pubs. They don’t know whether to get out or try to open, We need a massive support package.”

“I’m determined to stick strictly to the guidelines because the health of my staff and customers is the most important thing. But then you get a lot of older people, who just want to come in and have couple of pints in the evening, They don’t want to eat a meal and we’re the ones who have to tell them we can’t serve them. It’s very hard on people in that situation.”

Professional representative bodies, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) yesterday said the Government “has abandoned the 3,500 smaller pubs across Ireland’ following their decision to stop pubs from reopening next week. They also said that the decision will be met with “fury and despair” across the sector.

New Microbrewery and pub business ‘Crew’ onThomas Street never closed – because it never got to open.

Director, Jono Crute told the Limerick Post that an opening date had been planned for April and then came Covid-19.

“We need guidelines – there are none at all for wet pubs only for pub restaurants. The last thing we want to do is to open in an environment that would be dangerous for anybody, but we just have no idea what the thinking is on what is safe. We’re not medical people – we need guidance and we don’t have it.”

Jono said that he fears “some pubs may open ahed of the allowed date and ahead of any guidelines to keep people safe, out of sheer desperation. We don’t want to see that happen.”