Supports must be put in place for pubs that choose not to open - Cruise

Councillor and publican Neil Cruise

Councillor and publican Neil Cruise

A Fine Gael councillor and publican, Neil Cruise, said this week that the government should put in place supports for pubs whose owners choose not to re-open on September 21, due to having a number of concerns.

Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser this week, Cllr Cruise said he believed that in certain situations, such as where the publican was elderly, or had concerns over the health of their customers or family, that the government should not penalise them for not opening and instead let them keep their Pandemic Unemployment Payment or the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Cllr Cruise said: "I would have preferred if the government had done more for us, the reason being that we were the only sector that was told you are not opening and that is it.

"It is a big task to get a place up and running again - it is a huge task with a huge effort, both in human effort and financial cost. Some publicans have already had to stop preparations twice at least, in getting ready to open in anticipation.

"We are still not 100 per cent sure it will happen. First and foremost, I will say, we have to be cognisant at all times of the people we serve and the community we serve and that health is more important than us or any sector of society.

"But I think there should be an option left for publicans who are in certain situations; you could have elderly publicans who would have elderly people going into them - they should be allowed to make a decision and not be penalised if they decide not to open, in the interests of their community; so that they can keep their pandemic unemployment payment and they can keep their EWSS scheme that has taken over from the Temporary Wage Supplement scheme."

It is a very different situation for rural publicans who are reopening compared to those in cities or much larger towns, Said Cllr Cruise, adding that he didn't know would there even be an appetite from people to go back the pubs once they reopen.

"I would be fearful of what we are going back to, are people going to be that interested in going back to the pub? It hasn't been the bastion of the youth of this country for quite a while now, it has been in decline; what are we going back to, is my biggest fear and worry.

"What is each publican in rural Ireland going back to? it might be alright in the cities where you are going back to a captive audience, but we are not going back to that.

"I still think the Government need to take on and value what we do in rural Ireland, we provide a service but it is a social service in a lot of places. A lot of these pubs weren't money-making entities before Covid and they won't be after Covid and that is why a safety net should be left for those operators who feel, that in the best interests of their community or family it is best not to open."

He concluded by saying that it is a very uncertain time for all those involved in the licensed trade: "It is the toughest time we have ever had and are coming back into an uncertain future again - there is nothing concrete about what will happen."


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