How are we supposed to survive, asks owner of pub just over the Derry/Donegal border

Bar owners meet TDs over new guidelines

Vintners boss challenges TD to tell her how she can survive

Vintners boss Alice Lynch fears for the future of her business Maggie's Tavern, Carrickmore, St Johnston (above)

Donegal Vintners chairperson, Alice Lynch, has thrown down the challenge to four of the county's TDs to explain how her pub, Maggie's Tavern in the border village of St Johnston, is to survive.

In a separate development a deputation from the local VFI (Vintners Federation of Ireland) branch met with TDs new minister, Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue and Fine Gael's Joe McHugh today to highlight the ongoing crisis.

Spokesperson, Cllr Martin Harley, who is also treasurer of the VFI's Donegal branch, said they received a sympathetic hearing when they spoke about to them about the new draft guidelines for the reopening of pubs that have just been published.

Cllr Harley maintained the guidelines are much the same as those for pubs which serve food, and this backed up his earlier position that all pubs should have reopened together.

Meanwhile, in Ms Lynch's letter, she asks the TDs what she was to do.

Her letter reads: "Charlie, Pearse, Pádraig, Joe. It's a long story but I'll keep it brief.

"We took over the lease of our pub in November 2012 against all advice to do so, but we had to give it a go. With no bar experience whatsoever, having never even pulled a pint before, we felt it was an opportunity we had to try as there weren't many job vacancies at the time.

"Things were difficult in 2012, and worse in 2013 but we persevered and got the place up and running and year on year things slowly got better.

"We leased the pub for nearly five years and got ourselves into the position of purchasing the premises in 2017.

"Business was still slowly growing and in 2018 we could see a good future in the trade. We were adding to our staff and were lucky to have the best staff."

She explained that they had their busiest Christmas in 2019 and things were really good up until March 15 when they had to close.

"In the meantime we've invested a lot of money to utilise our back yard and to make inside our pub Covid compliant, but we are still not allowed to trade.

"We are now three years into a 15 year mortgage, two years into a 10 year loan and we are not allowed to trade. Our repayment breaks are to stop soon and we are between a rock and a hard place. We need financial help.

"We have mortgage and loan interest repayments along with other bills that we cannot turn off (ESB, Internet, phone etc) draining our bank account with no light at the end of the tunnel.

"What are we supposed to do?" she asked.

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