Publicans from across the county met last week for the AGM of the Longford branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
Held in the Market Bar on Tuesday, February 18, there was a good turnout for the annual meeting, and the VFIâ€™s National President, Gerry Rafter, was in attendance.
â€œAround 50 per cent of our members attended, which is above the national average,â€ local VFI branch chairperson John Duignan told the Longford Leader.
â€œGerry Rafter addressed the meeting and said he understood the frustration vintners are experiencing. He told us that turnover across the country is down an average of 25 per cent.â€
Mr Duignan explained that Gerry Rafterâ€™s comments came after he returned from Brussels, where he met with English, Welsh and Scottish publicans to discuss common problems in the trade.
One of those problems is a change in consumption trends, which has seen an increasing number of people choosing to drink at home.
â€œPublicans are no longer competing with each other,â€ Mr Duignan claimed. â€œWeâ€™re competing with multi-national supermarket chains.â€
Another stumbling block identified at the meeting is the issue of commercial rates, which are stretching the finances of some businesses to the limit.
â€œThere is a commission reviewing rates at present. It started in Waterford and has resulted in a significant reduction in rates there,â€ Mr Duignan continued.
â€œItâ€™s moving on to Limerick next but the whole process could take up to four or five years to complete and we have no idea when Longford will be reviewed.â€
Speaking personally, Mr Duignan went on to say he was disappointed to see the closure of PVâ€™s Bar: â€œNo pub wants to see another pub closing. Itâ€™s very sad to see PVâ€™s closing and sad for all the staff who lost their jobs.â€
Mr Duignan concluded by saying that publicans need to be proactive in the current climate.
â€œWe have to be more creative,â€ he said. â€œIf nothingâ€™s happening, weâ€™ve got to make something happen. We have to let people know they donâ€™t have to go the whole hog, either; If they want, they can go out, watch the match and just have a pint or two.â€