A Ballyshannon publican says that it certainly is'nt last orders for his business after over four hundred days of closure - and is looking to the future with lots of positivity.
Last week, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) called on the Government to allow all pubs to start providing outdoor service from May 24. The chief executive of the LVA, Donall O'Keeffe, told RTÉ that traditional pubs have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and has called on all members to contact their local political representatives.
Maurice McLaughlin of Seán Óg’s Pub said those whose businesses closed as a result of the pandemic in March 2020 have had a difficult journey to undertake since then. Describing the entire chain of events as “a rollercoaster” he said that the last four months has been the most difficult for both him and others in a similar position to him. Mr McLaughlin said those who owned pubs certainly were impacted more than other businesses that were allowed to open during other levels of restrictions.
“I suppose it is encouraging to see that there are some green shoots starting to appear especially with the vaccine being rolled out,” he said.
More consultation needed
He said that over the years the pub industry has sustained a lot of difficulties and owners have to face challenges head on.
“Moving forward, I would feel that there is going to have to be a lot of consultation between the industry and government to discuss ways of getting the industry moving and getting industry reopened and making sure they are sustainable into the future,” he said.
GAA involvement and avid athlete
Being involved in GAA management and an avid athlete, Mr McLaughlin said that he was fortunate to have sports and exercise to keep him occupied as he has worked consistently over the last four decades and is not used to being idle. He recalled last July when they were given some hope that they may open and how that hope was taken away from them. He described those times of hope as being frustrating. Once again, September brought its own challenges with openings and closures taking place.
The Irish pub an important part of society
Being in close proximity to the north doesn’t phase Mr McLaughlin who says when businesses open people can make their own choices, adding every pub has their own regular clientele and business module. At present, the Ballyshannon businessman misses his regulars and the camaraderie enjoyed at the bar. He also misses the banter and people discussing sports on a daily basis.
“The Irish pub is a very important part of Irish society. When you go in, you meet some great characters and great people,” he said.
Mr McLaughlin certainly won’t be thinking about having dinner service outside in the coming months stating that the climate of the county is far from ideal for such events.
One of the greatest challenges facing the industry Mr Mc Laughlin says is low-price alcohol in supermarkets and he urged the Government to have a serious discussion in relation to the issue.
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