04 June 2014

Licensees from across Northern Ireland travelled to Titanic Belfast last week, as Pubs of Ulster discussed the key issues affecting the future of the hospitality industry at its Annual General Meeting.

Speaking at the event, Magherafelt publican and Pubs of Ulster Chairman Mark Stewart said:

“Our AGM is an important event in our calendar because it allows our members – who are spread throughout Northern Ireland – to come together and discuss the issues that affect our businesses every day. This year’s AGM comes at a time when many of our members are beginning to look to the future with a little more positivity and optimism than this time last year.

“We understand that the Social Development Minister is currently considering proposals for the reform of liquor licensing laws and we would call on him now to bring those proposals forward as a matter of urgency, to help instil further confidence in the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland and allow us to compete with other world-class tourist destinations.

“Our industry continues to face challenges - of that there is no doubt – however, recent events such as the Great Ulster Pub Week and the Giro d’Italia coming to Northern Ireland are just two examples of the more positive things that we can shout about, and we hope there will be many more great opportunities to come.”

The Chairman also took the opportunity to detail the success of the Great Ulster Pub Week in which 160 pubs across Northern Ireland celebrated the rich history and tradition of the Ulster pub, and the contribution the industry makes to the local economy.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster also outlined the importance of licensing laws to help boost the tourism industry:

“We have had a number of challenging years but hopefully 2014 will be the turning point we have all been hoping for. I am greatly encouraged to welcome our members here today so that we can discuss how we build upon this renewed optimism going forward.

“The latest tourism figures which were published by DETI this week show an increase in tourism spending- overnight trips to Northern Ireland are up 2% compared to last year. It must be noted however, that there has been a notable fall in the number of visitors we welcomed from the Republic of Ireland, down by 15%. The Republic is an important market for us and we must do more to attract visitors from there to Northern Ireland.

“With that in mind it is ever more important that we make progress on the modernisation of our licensing system so that we can offer tourists a great night out that competes with other major European tourist destinations.  I would echo our Chairman’s call for the Social Development Minister to push forward with reforms as a matter of urgency. Pubs of Ulster will continue to press for these changes on behalf of its members. ”


- ENDS –


For further information, please contact Arlene O’Connor at MCE Public Relations on 028 9026 7099 or



Pubs of Ulster CEO Colin Neill addresses attendees at the 2014 Annual General Meeting in Titanic Belfast.



·       Pubs of Ulster’s AGM was held on Thursday, 29 May 2014 at the Titanic Building, Belfast