Presidents Introduction – September

Paul Simon sang there’s 50 ways to leave your lover, the government have close on 50,000 ways to keep the VAT rate at 9% – it’s called Jobs and continuing growth within this sector. The government must maintain it for the tourism industry throughout this country as it is vital for the survival of rural and border regions. Our most recent report highlights that the introduction of the low VAT rate in July 2011 has been a major driver of local employment growth. Close on 50,000 new jobs have been created in the food and hospitality sector across the whole country since this initiative has been introduced.

The 9% VAT rate has benefited regions greatly across the country and we as restaurateurs, food producers, employers have created these jobs etc. and it needs to be maintained for continued growth. That’s why we are asking for a 5 year VAT freeze. I cannot stress how important this is to us all in the tourism sector that this stays in place. I must add, we are the organisation who spear headed a well-run campaign, for this initiative to be introduced and kept. I want to ensure you as members that no other groups or organisations will put it in jeopardy with possible reckless behaviours and if they do so I will continue to protect our members who have passed on the discount to the consumers. We as a nation must never go back to 2007 when Ireland was shown to be a poor value for money destination and better known as Rip off Ireland, we all have come too far for the same mistakes to be repeated so let this be a warning. Tourism is a long-term sustainable source of jobs in Ireland. Tourism cannot be off-shored or out-sourced. Tourism has the potential to provide jobs in all parts of the country. Capital investment by the state is not enough and needs to be addressed. It is currently too low and not appropriate for a sector that is so important to the economy and the country. For some unknown reason tourism budgets continue to be reduced year after year, this leads to one startling fact, visitor numbers will slowly decline in future years if not addressed, it will decline furthermore as Ireland is uniquely exposed to Brexit. Consumer confidence has fallen back, after months of strong growth, restaurants in border counties have said the positive momentum before Brexit has come to the preferable halt due to the dramatic fall in sterling. The government must take decisive steps in Budget 2017 to remedy this for the survival of border and rural counties.

I am delighted to announce that I have sent Minster Bruton a letter with my recommendations regarding the importance of Home Economics becoming mandatory for all junior cert students. In my letter I stated that Home Economics is the only second-level subject on the curriculum which exposes students to food education. In exposing students to food education, Home Economics provides students with knowledge and skills which enables them to understand food. In practice Home Economics allows consumers to plan meals and make informed food choices when shopping for food, to read food labels correctly and importantly – to be able to cook nutritious meals for themselves and their families. Some of Ireland’s top chefs, both male and female, have gotten their passion for food passed on to them through the generations. If Home Economic were to be made compulsory it would benefit everyone, leading hopefully to more jobs within our industry and indeed the creation of more home economics teachers. It is just too important to miss this opportunity.

To make sure we are not unduly targeted by the minister, we all need to get behind the Restaurant Association and as members be well prepared for what might happen in the coming months. You must be vocal with your local representatives to ensure they understand the issues that affect us all.

Finally our away golf outing takes place on Monday 12th September in the fabulous Glasson golf club with dinner and prize giving afterwards at the renowned Wine-port lodge. To book in or for more information please contact Siobhan on 01 6779901 or email office@rai.ie.
Slán go foillín

Anthony Gray

President Restaurants Association of Ireland.