Presidents Introduction – December

So it is that time of year again and a welcome boost to business is expected. If Dublin is anything to go by, there is definitely a hint of festive cheer about – and it’s spreading. But let us be aware of the ‘no shows’ and cancellations. This has been apparent from members’ feedback during this time of the year. Cancellations can be damaging to your business. Not only do we lose the initial booking but we have also disappointed potential guests by having to refuse their custom. You really should take a deposit to confirm the booking. For more information on cancellation policies please read here.

This may sound as if I am repeating myself but I am seriously concerned with the prospects of Brexit. Cross border shopping has already begun and is in full flow. Restaurants all along the border counties continue to see a sharp decline in visitors from Northern Ireland and Britain. I’m very concerned for what the New Year will bring, the current government must address issues with Brexit and the two tier economy which we obviously see here in rural Ireland. It is having a big impact on investment. Brexit is looming over border counties and we will see job losses unless the government start to do something about it. As president of the Restaurants Association, I am calling for a clear strategy on how the Irish government are to deal with Brexit and minimise damage to Irish tourism. Irish Tourism industry is highly dependent on the British Market as over 3 million from the UK visit Ireland each year.

The government must implement a plan and address rural Ireland. They must never forget that tourism is Ireland’s largest sectoral employer providing 230,000 jobs throughout the country. It is vital that tourism is acknowledged and sustained. I cannot stress this enough it is vital that tourism is recognised by central Government in all the EU negotiations with Brexit. This leads me to my next point – the date set for Brexit and the effects it will have. I believe it would be a great time to get rid of the ridiculous Good Friday ban on alcohol sales.

Both and the Restaurants Association of Ireland and I condemn the ban of alcohol sales in restaurants on Good Friday. Good Friday costs the restaurants sector €15 million in revenue and everybody loses out including the government – not to mention the tourists as the country closes down. Aside from the law showing a 19th-Century image of Ireland to incoming tourists, many restaurants decide to close their doors on Good Friday. Ireland must be the only country in the world that has a bank holiday weekend and actually chooses to close the tourist attractions it is best known for, the centres of craic and ceol, the restaurants and pubs of the country. Even the Vatican City does not obey this ridiculous law. As president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, I play a major part assisting in our survival as restaurateurs helping battle the many legislative issues affecting the restaurant industry. While it is fair to expect us as restaurateurs to continue fighting our everyday battles, the association through effective lobbying can, and does, fight our corner for a fair and just environment in which to work and survive in these challenging times. We will be calling upon you our members to assist us. Myself Adrian works tirelessly to help defend our member’s interests we do this with much gusto, no matter the issue.

We had a massive turnout for our final golf outing of the year in Baltray Co Louth on a pet of a day and I would like to personally thank Patricia Mc Gowan and Scholars Hotel for a wonderful day which was had by 29 golfers.

I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to my fellow council members who attended a very productive council day in the stunning Castle Leslie Estate last month. A special acknowledgement to Jim Power who joined us and Sammy Leslie who welcomed us for a memorable stay. I am excited and enthusiastic to see what the next year brings for the Restaurants Association.

Finally, To all the team in the office a big thank you for all your hard work over the last year and I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very prosperous, warm, happy and healthy Christmas. With excitement in the air for our CEO coming shortly I would like to wish both himself and Bernadine a great few days and a fantastic Christmas. Exciting times lay ahead for you both.

May the road rise up to meet you both, may the wind always be at your back and may the sun always shine warm upon your faces.

Happy Christmas

Anthony Gray
President Restaurants Association of Ireland

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