Broadband is 'essential for survival of the rural pub'
Publicans believe improved broadband infrastructure in rural areas will be crucial to the future of the country pub.
They say poor broadband is not only impacting on their business, but is also hindering the economic development and wellbeing of rural areas.
The Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI), which represents 4,000 publicans outside of Dublin, passed a motion at its annual conference in Killarney, Co Kerry calling on the Government to take immediate action to address the significant deficit in areas outside of the cities and major towns.
Publican Alan Gielty, who owns Gielty's Bar and Restaurant in Dooagh on Achill Island, said the lack of broadband wasa major prohibiter for people thinking of starting up a business on the island off the coast of Mayo.
"Apart from one company, Westnet, that is providing a service to me and other small businesses the coverage is very poor," he said.
"Everybody needs broadband now to do business but it's like we've been forgotten about.
"All the businesses need to pull together as one group and say: 'This is what we need'."
VFI president Noreen O'Sullivan told 400 delegates at the conference in the Gleneagle Hotel they had a "responsibility" to address these concerns.
She also reminded the Government of the importance of the sector to the economy and its "hefty" contribution to the exchequer.
"That we account for over 50,000 jobs and contribute over €20m in employment-related taxes alone is ample evidence of that," she said. Ms O'Sullivan said there was also a misconception that 'rural' meant remote. But the places she was referring to were not just areas that were far from villages and towns.
"Outside of the major urban areas like Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and perhaps one or maybe two towns in each other county, the rest of Ireland is basically rural.
"Villages and small towns rely on rural living and rural infrastructure for their livelihood and prosperity. We can safely assume that the vast majority of the country we live in is rural," she said.
The Irish pub is a major attraction for tourists and the VFI says 64pc of its pubs support 7,000 local suppliers.
Each pub has an average staff quota of seven, but the VFI said this was significantly increased in the busy summer months when an additional 12,000 jobs were created.
Figures released by the VFI also reveal the average spend per pub on capital investments and refurbishment is €23,000 per annum which they say benefits local tradesmen including carpenters and electricians.
They also reveal that of the 92,000 jobs in the drinks industry in Ireland, 52,000 of these are 'on-trade' or in pubs.