Thursday 21 February 2019

Stirring it up: Café owner has 'no regrets' after telling woman to 'drop dead' during heated debate over VAT rise

Price hike: Tom McNamara, owner of the Coffee Club in Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was accused of taking advantage of the change in VAT rates. Picture: Jeff Harvey
Price hike: Tom McNamara, owner of the Coffee Club in Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was accused of taking advantage of the change in VAT rates. Picture: Jeff Harvey
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

A café owner says he has "no regrets" over telling a woman to "drop dead" live on radio during a heated debate over the increase in VAT on the hospitality sector.

Tom McNamara (61) - who owns the Coffee Club in Tullamore, Co Offaly - denied he has upped prices on the back of the Budget increase in VAT from 9pc to 13.5pc.

One of his customers, Anne, phoned in to RTÉ's 'Liveline' to say that's what he had told her yesterday. Anne said the price of a stir fry had risen from €9.99 to €11.99.

She said when she enquired about the price jump, she was told it was due to the VAT increase - but subsequently realised the VAT rise would not come in until January.

Mr McNamara told Joe Duffy that Anne had "imagined what happened".

But Anne replied: "I did not imagine what happened. I am not here to put anybody down, but the point here is you told me that the increases were introduced because the VAT rate was increased."

"If this lady imagines I said such a thing, let her imagine it and if she wants her €2 back she can have her €2 back. If she doesn't she can go to hell," Mr McNamara said.

As the argument continued, another woman called Judith came on the line to criticise Mr McNamara's behaviour, saying it was "rude" and a "disgrace", to which Mr McNamara labelled the woman "a pain in the arse" and told her to "drop dead".

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr McNamara said he did not regret these comments.

Mr McNamara said he was "sick and tired of political correctness in Ireland".

He said he didn't think the row would affect his business negatively. "Those unhappy to dine at my place are welcome to stay away, but most of my customers are loyal and I am loyal to them," he said.

However, he said he would offer Anne free lunch at his coffee shop for a week, but said this was not an apology.

Irish Independent

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