Finance Minister Lobbied For Urgent Assistance

19 January 2011

Pubs of Ulster, the professional body for the Retail Licensed Trade in Northern Ireland has met with Finance Minister Sammy Wilson MP MLA - delivering the message that the pub industry is fighting for survival.

The pubs body outlined the critical state of the industry following the blow to trading during the Christmas and New Year period and has asked that the Minister do all he can to help. Pubs of Ulster welcomed the meeting with the Minister and his understanding of the issues involved. Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Pubs of Ulster said today: �We are encouraged by the Minister�s understanding of our plight and his agreement to examine ways in which he can help. We will be in close contact with his department over the coming weeks and are working hard on behalf of the industry to resolve the real problems being experienced by publicans at present. Unfortunately, it would appear that we are restricted in what mechanisms can be used due to the regulatory environment in which we operate, but we are reassured by his commitment to review all measures at his disposal. The pub industry is already at a distinct disadvantage in that it does not get a second chance to sell again if it has had a bad Christmas. It is not afforded the same luxury as other parts of the retail sector such as a January sale and needs support. The recent water and weather crisis has further compounded the problems facing publicans and they need immediate assistance. We require swift action otherwise further closures and job losses will become more commonplace in the coming months�. Sorcha Wolsey, Chair, Pubs of Ulster added: �A concerted effort is needed to provide the Retail Licensed Trade with the right support mechanisms in order to survive the current period. The health of the industry is vitally important to the region in terms of it near �1billion contribution to the economy, the employment of tens of thousands of people and as a central driver of the tourism offer. Intervention by the Finance Minister now could prevent serious problems which are looming over the industry. Getting the government to work with us will provide the trade with the confidence they are so badly lacking�.