Pubs 'at risk' as one in three say they face battle to get insurance
Publicans say the rising cost of insurance premiums is now putting businesses and jobs at risk.
A survey carried out by the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) found that 37pc of publicans said they had encountered difficulties in securing insurance cover for their premises.
The research shows that 88pc of publicans reported seeing their insurance premiums rise over the past two years.
Almost 40pc of pubs saw their premiums rise by between 10pc and 20pc, while 34pc had to pay between 20pc and 30pc more for their policies.
At the most extreme end of the spectrum, 15pc of those surveyed saw the cost of their policies increased by between 30pc and 40pc.
"Rising insurance premiums are yet another crippling cost publicans face in addition to a host of other costs.
"The reality of the situation is that these insurance costs are hampering the progress of small business owners and publicans across Ireland and it's crucial the Government recognise this and offers its support," said Pádraig Cribben, ceo Vintners Federation of Ireland.
"As it stands, the cost of settling insurance claims in Ireland is out of control, particularly in comparison to other countries.
"This is having a severe knock-on effect resulting in rising insurance premiums not only for publicans but across the board," he said.
"If claims need to be settled, the courts should be the place of last resort not first.
"Enhanced empowerment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board together with an urgent review of the Book of Quantum is required now to stop this spiral of increases," Mr Cribben said.
Almost half (44pc) of publicans said premiums were rising due to the higher legal costs associated with settling claims.
Exchequer figures for 2015 showed that the State recouped a total of €1.1bn last year from alcohol sales.
Overall, there are 7,182 pubs in Ireland which employ 52,000 people, with 92,000 employed in the drinks industry nationally. The survey also shows that more than nine out of 10 pubs are family owned.
The importance of the local pub to smaller communities is emphasised by data that shows half of all pubs in the country are in rural and village locations.
Cork is the county in Ireland with the most pubs (954), followed by Dublin (772), with Galway in third place for licensed premises. Kerry (435) and Tipperary had the fourth and fifth-highest concentrations of pubs.
A report released earlier this year found that Irish drinkers have reduced their alcohol consumption every year over the past decade, apart from 2014.
The data showed that consumption of beer across the country fell by 2.5pc last year, although Irish people still drink an average of 80 litres of beer a year, making the country the eighth-highest consumers of beer within the EU.