Pub Industry Calls For Immediate Support
22 January 2013
The body which represents local pubs has called upon Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson to provide immediate support to protect the future of the industry, as the impact of the on-going flag protests continues to be felt in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.
During a meeting held at Stormont today (Monday 21st January), Pubs of Ulster warned that the impact of the flag protests, whilst critical in Belfast, was also being felt across Northern Ireland. As a result, the future of hundreds of pubs and the livelihoods of thousands of people employed throughout the industry is at risk. Pubs of Ulster called upon the Minister to step in to provide immediate support for the industry.
Speaking after the meeting, Stephen Reynolds, member of Pubs of Ulster’s executive committee and owner of The Front Page Bar, Ballymena, said:
“The impact of the flag protests has brought Belfast to its knees and affected pubs right across Northern Ireland, with many struggling to get people through the door over the last few weeks.
“As a publican myself, I know all too well the challenges and difficulties that this can cause a business and the sad reality is, many pubs will close if the industry does not get the immediate support it desperately needs.”
The call for immediate support comes as Pubs of Ulster revealed that the future of the hospitality industry, which generates one billion each year for the local economy and employs approximately 35,000 people across Northern Ireland, is in jeopardy as a result on on-going pressures brought about by the flag protests.
Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, said:
“Over the last number of weeks we have all been made aware of the difficulties facing the trade in Belfast, especially in terms of job losses, and a similar situation is beginning to happen right across Northern Ireland.
“Our meeting with Finance Minster Sammy Wilson was very encouraging and we discussed a number of realistic ways to help the industry through the current difficulties in the economy. The Minister stated his commitment to helping the industry and said his department will look at ways to ease the pressure on pubs, including the possible deferral of payments. In addition, he also promised to speak with other departments and the banks to look at ways to help the industry.
“We stressed that any assistance must be delivered immediately, as many pubs are now surviving on a day to day basis. Pubs of Ulster will continue to work closely with the Minister, along with other political representatives, to ensure that action is taken. The future of the industry depends on it.”