Massive fees force 120 clubs to close doors
Ireland has lost 120 nightclubs in the last three years and a major factor is the €410 fee charged to nightclub operators every time they open their doors for business.
The chief executive of the Irish Nightclub Industry Association Barry O'Sullivan says the fee is killing jobs and damaging Ireland's night-time economy and tourism.
Mr O'Sullivan said reducing the fee for Special Exemption Orders to €200 per order, would be exchequer-neutral, would boost the hospitality industry, save jobs and generate more taxes for Finance Minister Michael Noonan
"Opening a nightclub seven nights a week costs €150,000 a year in fees and that isn't sustainable. A lot of clubs have cut back," he said.
A new report by DCU economist Anthony Foley found that a large nightclub operating 300 nights every year and trading 18 hours every week pays €148,000 annually for Special Exemption Orders (SEOs)
This contrasts with the €3,805 annual fee charged to publicans for trading the maximum 90 hours a week, or the €1,500 annual fee for off-licences trading up to 78.5 hours per week.
"This disproportionate cost is having a major detrimental impact on nightclubs' ability to trade," Mr O Sullivan said.
Between 2007 and 2010 the number of nightclubs dropped from 430 to 300.
"The decline since 2007 of 27,000 nightclub operating nights is associated with the loss of approximately 600 jobs. On this basis it is clear that the SEO fee must be reduced.
"A €200 fee would just about allow nightclubs to break even on a €2,000 turnover. However, the reduced fee would also allow nightclubs to operate additional nights, generating further income and tax flow to the exchequer. This would neutralise any loss to the State from the reduced fee."
A publican's licence allows operators to sell drink up to 12.30am. The Special Exemption Order allows alcohol to be sold until 2.20am.
"It is effectively €410 for just two hours' trading. The SEO fee is made up of a €300 court fee and €110 in excise duty," he added.