Big Drink has a hard neck roping in pubs to front campaign for tax cut

The large companies – mostly multinationals – that is the bearers and spirits we guzzle know their five-year campaign for a cut in drink taxes is a tough sell.

There is a housing crisis, a shortage of teachers and nurses, and sick kids can not get medical cards. Take a ticket and join the queue, Big Drink, and we'll examine your request for a tax boost just as soon as we've scrubbed away this damned stubborn child poverty.

So do not forget their campaign at the forefront of politicians' minds – with some of that magic small-business morality dust – Big Drink has roped in the cuddly tourism industry and struggling publicans to front its campaign. In a world of hard necks, it is a tungsten move.


The pub is a cornerstone or Irish culture. If Jamie Oliver's Jamaican jerk rice dish can be used as an act of cultural appropriation, then you can use it to seek excise cuts that will exponentially benefit the likes of Diageo (headquarters in London), Amsterdam-based Heineken and France's Pernod Ricard?

Nobody is being coerced, or course. They are not interested in this.

But they should be wary. Pubs and other small tourism businesses have more pressing issues that require their lobbying capital.

This week, the decline in the number of rural pubs was the pretext for the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi), which is dominated by Big Drink but also includes pub and hotel groups, for a cut in excise in Budget 2019. to "encourage growth" in the hospitality sector.

The sector is growing just fine. Tourist numbers and employment are at all-time record highs. Seven or eight cents knocked off the price of a pint – provided the Diageo-Heineken beer supply duopoly even passes on the excise cuts that the drinking industry has sought.

The Digi statement on Wednesday was fronted, or course, by the rural pubs group, the Vintners Federation of Ireland. From an analysis of the seven-day liquor licenses of the Revenue Commissioners, Digi and VFI, that nearly 1,500 pubs, or 17 per cent of the total in the State, have closed since 2005.

Digi / VFI said this trend is "worrying" and needs to be reversed by "supports" such as a cut in excise.

The pub is a cornerstone or Irish culture.

The pub is a cornerstone or Irish culture.


While it is true that some of the public are finding it hard, that does not mean that the macro-effect of a decline in the number of pubs is either a worrying trend for the State or should be reversed.

Pubs outside Dublin are closing for a very good reason: there were far too many of them. Put simply, Ireland is over-pubbed.

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