The Sale of Alcohol Bill could undermine the entire rural pub trade, according to Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Chief Executive Paul Clancy.
While many elements of the Bill have been welcomed by the trade, publicans are concerned by the proposal to abolish ‘extinguishment’ – the licensing system that allows a new pub to open only when another pub permanently closes.
VFI Chief Executive Paul Clancy says the move will create a deregulated on-trade where the number of licences will potentially be unlimited.
“The Department of Justice says proposals for the deregulation of the licensed trade are being introduced in response to the decrease in rural pub numbers. It says the move will stimulate growth of new pubs in areas where they are in decline for over 20 years but, in our view, this proposal will completely undermine the trade,” he said.
“Pubs are in decline in rural areas not because of any barrier to entry but for a number of other reasons, including demographics and changing consumer habits.
“Deregulation will precipitate the closure of many pubs as the owners decide to exit the business in the face of unsustainable competition. While the adage ‘the market will find its level’ is strictly true, it fails to take into account the cultural and community value of the existing pubs”.