21 pubs have closed in Co Longford since 2005
Since 2005, 21 pubs across the county have closed according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI).
There are almost 1,500 less pubs in Ireland since that time indicating a decrease of 17.1% within the sector.
Rural counties saw the most significant drop in pubs, which the industry says have served as a major source of employment regionally.
Commenting on the findings, Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive Officer, Vintners Federation of Ireland and member of DIGI said the fact that the number of pubs was down 17.1% in the period from 2005 to 2017 was a “worrying” statistic.
“These pubs are small businesses, mainly in rural Ireland, that provide significant employment and continue to create jobs in local communities,” he added, before pointing to the fact that in Longford-Westmeath alone, the hospitality and drinks businesses enabled 6,139 jobs while in Donegal, there were 368 pubs and 7,445 jobs supported by the industry.
“This demonstrates the scale of employment that this sector creates rurally, however, the sharp decline in the number of pubs is worrying and is further evidence of the need to monitor the industry and ensure the necessary supports are in place to reverse this trend.”
Mr Cribben went on to say that while it was clear the Government was committed to assisting small rural businesses recover during the recession, business owners in the drinks industry had been challenged by two increases in alcohol excise tax in Budget 2012 and Budget 2013.
“Our punitive alcohol excise tax – the second highest in the EU – slows the growth of these businesses and impacts their day-to-day operations and bottom line,” he continued.
“DIGI is calling on the Government to reduce Ireland’s high rate of excise tax.
“A reduction in alcohol excise tax will encourage the growth of our drinks and hospitality sector, return money to Irish consumers and make Ireland more competitive internationally.”
According to the latest findings by DIGI, there were 7,831 pubs in Ireland outside of Dublin in 2005. By 2017, that number had dropped by 18.7% to 6,367.
Cork, which has the largest number of pubs, saw the most significant decline in the country. In 2017, Cork had 915 pubs – a 25% decrease from 1,221 in 2005.
Wicklow, Meath and Dublin saw the smallest decline in publican’s licenses with Wicklow pubs dropping from 158 to 157 while Meath was down three pubs from 210 to 2007.
Meanwhile, in 2017, there were 773 pubs registered in Dublin city and county – down only 1.7% from 786 in 2005.
However, the number of Dublin pubs in 2017 is 4.3% higher than in 2012 - the lowest year for the number of pubs in Dublin and in contrast to publican’s licences, off-licences have seen an increase of 11.8% since 2005.
3,331 premises registered an off-licence in 2017, compared to 2,966 in 2005.
Licences for wine-only bars and restaurants were also up 3.1% since 2005.
In total, there were 866 fewer liquor licences registered in Ireland in 2017 than in 2005 - a decrease of 5.6%.