SAVEOURPUBS - The Horse n Jockey
02 September 2020
Francine Warwick had looked ahead to 2020 with excitement, as a new chapter for her and her team of three was set to begin at Ballymena’s Horse ‘n’ Jockey.
The Bryan Street pub, traditional in the truest sense, is known locally for pouring a mean pint of the black stuff- not to mention being well regarded in the local community as a hidden gem for whiling away a few hours over a few frames of pool and a chat.
The words ‘warm’, ‘friendly’ and ‘welcoming’ come up time and again when the pub’s name is mentioned, and many put that down to one woman in particular.
“Francine is a great asset to the place, I love her.” says customer Jillian Clements.
But sadly, as it the case for so many, it hasn’t been the 2020 Ms Warwick had looked forward to with anticipation.
“I worked here for over twelve years, and eventually took over the running of the pub in December of last year”, she says.
“It has been so difficult, especially just starting out. There is nothing coming in, but there are still bills to be paid.”
“It has been bad.”
The doors of the Horse ‘n’ Jockey have remained firmly closed since the 23rd March, and without a reopening date or a lifeline from the Northern Ireland Executive, the sad reality is that ‘warm, friendly and welcoming’ meeting places such as this will simply not survive.
With the Executive set to meet on Thursday, the drastic situation for traditional pubs has been exacerbated with many non-food serving publicans, staff, and their families uncertain about their future with increasing costs and the winding down of the furlough scheme imminent. The repeated plea comes as the government in the Republic of Ireland recognised at the weekend the need to provide assistance to these pubs who may be closed for longer than anticipated.
The sector has stated time and again that it is ready to open fully under guidance, with social distance measures in place and all health and hygiene rules stringently adhered to and is calling on the Executive to let them prove they can reopen successfully once and for all.