President’s Report – May 2021

Welcome to your May newsletter, 

Summer is upon us and we are still restricted in our capabilities, we are now 14 months locked down in some way, shape or form. An Taoiseach’s speech on Wednesday was positive for the overall economy but it was not good for the majority of restaurants. Most of whom have never been equipped for the great outdoors with our unpredictable climate, which is understandable. Many of our members have restaurants on first floor locations, many have restricted amounts of outdoor space and will have to continue to operate as a takeaway for the coming summer. The most disappointing part of all of this is that Hotel restaurants will operate as normal to residents. I am a hotelier and I have also worked in and managed restaurants and I can, without hesitation, say that there is no difference between hotel restaurants and stand-alone restaurants.

It has been mooted that hotel restaurants have more ventilation, or that “residents have always dined in hotels”. I have never heard so much nonsense and the fact that I will be able to have people from multiple locations wine and dine in my hotel restaurant and my local pizzeria cannot serve its next-door neighbour is beyond belief. This decision is totally irrational and has caused a divide within our sector. It is anti- competitive, discriminatory and inequitable. As An Tánaiste stated in the Dail on Friday “I have to be honest, there is no medical evidence” suggests that it was not a thought out decision and will keep an estimated 100k of our workforce unemployed for a further 2 months. If this decision were based on scientific or medical grounds, I would have wholeheartedly accepted it in order to protect our workforce and our customers. The fact is that there is no medical evidence, this decision is unfair and in inequitable and the Restaurants Association has instructed our legal team to explore a legal challenge regarding this decision. Real lives and livelihoods are at stake here and we are not accepting this treatment of our sector and its workforce. We will be a key stakeholder in the recovery of the overall economy and a little more respect should have come our way.

In the meantime we will continue lobbying to ensure the EWSS remains in place for the remainder of the year at minimum. We have continued to call for a doubling of the CRSS which was not covering all fixed costs. Government have announced a 2 restart weeks of double payments so our asks have been partially met but we will continue to call for a doubling of the current CRSS rate for those restricted from ensure restaurants are in a position to pay landlords and be afforded the opportunity to continue to trade when we reopen for Indoor dining. 

We are continuously working hard to find ways of bolstering up our workforce. We have had an enormous amount of hospitality staff change career because of this pandemic. We will be engaging with Failte Ireland again this week to give an idea of where the gaps are and what needs to be done to revive careers in our industry. One of the deciding factors that initiates career change is the perception of unsecure employment  and we want to change that perception. We have already had positive meetings with =Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris on apprenticeships and we will continue to engage with government on this huge issue that slows the progress in our sector.

For those that are in a position to trade outdoors I wish you the best of luck, for those that are left behind I will do all I can to fight your corner and hopefully as the vaccination effort continues we will be in a position to get our customers back indoors and life can get back to normal. I look forward to updating you next month.

Best Wishes,

Mark McGowan -President

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