A Bill that will allow for breweries and distilleries to sell their product on site, which currently is not allowed under Irish licensing law, would give a particular boost to Longford, according to Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy Peter Burke.
Labour Deputy Alan Kelly is putting forward a Private Member’s Bill - Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 and Deputy Burke has rowed in behind this.
Speaking on the Bill, Deputy Burke stated that in light of the current brewery in St Mel’s and now the proposals for Lanesboro, this Bill could open up a niche market in the county.
He explained, “I have been in touch with Eoin Tynan from St Mel’s Brewing Company and the Clancy family, who have an exciting distillery planned for Lanesboro, as I feel this initiative could maximise their business and tourist potential.
“As things stand, people can visit and tour breweries and distilleries, but cannot sample or buy the product. This is a complete waste in my eyes - can you imagine touring a French vineyard and not be given the opportunity to buy any of the produce at the end of the tour?”
Deputy Burke continued, “I will be supporting this Bill and will be working hard to ensure that Fine Gael and the Government agree to back the legislation when it is introduced into the Dáil and Seanad. If the Bill is enacted, it gives a real chance for tourism in Longford to be given a boost and to open up a niche market to attract more people to the county.
“St Mel’s Brewing Company produce extremely high calibre of beers, and Longford would benefit if this quality could be available on site. Similarly, Lough Ree Distillery plan to build a large visitor centre and attract up to 20,000 visitors a year. This extra income has huge potential to breathe life into the local economy and community.
“In the 1860s, Ireland produced 60% of the world’s whiskey. We need to continue to progress indigenous industry, especially in rural Ireland, and small changes such as those proposed in this Bill can have huge long-term impact. I plan to work with Deputy Kelly, along with Eoin Tynan and Sheila, Peter and Mike Clancy to ensure Longford takes advantage of this opportunity.”