Kerry Vintners to consider running election candidate

Sinead Kelleher

Kerry's publicans are considering running an election candidate in the General Election to focus on rural issues. 

Following the annual AGM of the Kerry Vintners Association, the local organisation is considering putting forward a candidate to contest the next General Election.  At least two potential candidates have been identified in Kerry and the Kerry Vintners will discuss the proposal at the annual Vintners Association of Ireland AGM. 

In the interim they are to discuss the election with potential candidates in Kerry before formalising their election campaign.  Outgoing chairman of the Kerry Vintners Association, Ger Counihan, said that the idea was received very well at the AGM.  "There are 310 members in the Kerry Vintners Association and if each of those could get 40 votes that is a potential of 12,000 votes for a candidate. 

"One or two names have been mooted and there was great support for the proposal at the AGM," Mr Counihan said.  He said any campaign would not be merely about members' interests: "Vintners have no voice and TDs in Dublin have no idea what is going on in rural Ireland. This isn't just about the vintners it is about rural Ireland and tourism."

Mr Counihan said that the Kerry Vintners Association is hopeful that other counties would follow in Kerry's footsteps and put forward their own candidates.  Ger Counihan, who runs Bunkers in Killorglin, has now stepped down as Chairman of Kerry Vintners, following the AGM.  He will be replaced by Christy Walsh from Listowel. 

Christy, who runs The Well bar, says that publicans are facing a very difficult time and that a candidate to help fight for them would be an asset.  Key concerns among Kerry Vintners are the costs they face before they open their doors for business which includes Sky and insurance costs. 

"Sky can be €1,000 a month and it is only going to get more expensive. We are also trying to reduce insurance costs." The Kerry Vintners Association have also drawn up a proposal for the annual Vintners Association AGM in May calling for the threshold at which publicans pay VAT to be increased from the current €37,500 to €150,000 to help rural publicans survive. 

"This would give small publicans a chance to survive. There are a lot of rural publicans out there that are not viable but as they are family businesses they remain open. Increasing the rate at which vat is paid on income for publicans would give them a chance."