Thursday 27 October 2016

No relief for pub owner as high alcohol tax and Brexit fears remain in play

Publican: Marcus Houlihan

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Brexit is a major concern for pub owner Marcus Houlihan
Brexit is a major concern for pub owner Marcus Houlihan

IT WAS a mixed-bag Budget for Marcus Houlihan, owner of The Long Hall pub on South Great George's Street in Dublin's city centre.

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He had hoped to see "a long overdue reduction" in excise duty on alcohol, noting that Ireland has the highest rate of taxation on alcohol in the EU.

However, he also said he was pleased that there were no more increases.

Mr Houlihan believes that successive governments have had a negative impact on the pub trade.

"In the last 10 years over a thousand pubs in Ireland have been forced to close. They're predominantly in small villages and towns across Ireland, but that's a shocking figure. That's employment in every town and village," he told the Irish Independent.

He is also concerned about the impact of Brexit and says that a reduction in UK visitors could be detrimental to tourism and hospitality.

"We've now got the highest tax on alcohol in the EU and it's making us very expensive. With Brexit it's become more expensive for UK visitors to come to Ireland. They're 40pc of our numbers."

However despite this, he says things have "definitely picked up" and that this year has been an exceptional one.

"Because of the centenary and 1916, there's been a lot going on in the city. Tourism figures are back up as well so there's a huge amount more visitors."

He says that the high excise duty on alcohol and the exorbitant pub prices mean that people are now more likely to drink at home, a trend he sees as worrying.

"When you get people going into supermarkets and getting slabs of beer and bottles of spirits and drinking at home on their own, it's not good.

"The pub is just a much better environment to be in."

He says that high excise duty does not decrease alcohol consumption, it just diverts it from one channel to another.

Irish Independent

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