President’s Report – June 2024

President’s Report – June 2024

Following the incredible success of the Irish Restaurant Awards All-Ireland Gala Dinner, it’s with a great sense of pride that I look back on the event. Nearly 1,200 restaurateurs, chefs, owners and staff gathered at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road on May 20th, for what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. On a personal note, this year’s Irish Restaurant Awards will have been my last as President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland. It has been an honour to see the Awards flourish and grow in recent years.

You don’t need me to remind you that these are undeniably challenging times for our industry. Restaurant closures are at an unprecedented level but, as I told each regional event and May’s All-Ireland final, this makes opportunities that allow us to celebrate all that is great about our industry even more important as they highlight our sector’s resilience and passion. I would like to extend a special congratulations to Dede at the Customs House Baltimore for winning Best Restaurant and Aishling Moore of Goldie for taking home Best Chef.

As you will all be aware, this Friday, June 7th, marks Ireland’s local and European elections. Candidates will be out in force, calling to your door seeking your vote. It is absolutely crucial that the voice of Ireland’s food-led hospitality industry is heard loud and clear this week. Don’t hesitate to raise your concerns and propose solutions to the candidates. This is a prime opportunity to make your voices heard by your political representatives. Use the next few days wisely, and remember, a General Election is on the horizon, so keep yourselves at the forefront of your local TD’s mind in the weeks and months following this Friday too.

Speaking of elections, you might have noticed the eye-catching yellow VAT9 posters featuring a knife and fork popping up around Leinster House, Government Buildings and across the country. This campaign has been extremely effective at putting VAT9 back on the top of politicians’ minds and the news agenda. There is no doubt that VAT9 is now an election issue that politicians will have to pay heed to or face losing votes. A big thank you to the RAI HQ team for designing and printing the posters and to all of you who helped erect them across the country.

I remain steadfast in our pursuit of reinstating the 9% VAT rate for restaurants, cafes and other food-led businesses in Budget 2025. In recent weeks, we have been repeatedly told by senior politicians that this Budget in October represents our best shot at securing this vital lifeline for our industry. After this, the harder it will become. Let’s stand together, maintain the pressure and work towards making our industry thrive once again.

Yours in hospitality, 

Paul Lenehan

President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

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