It’s the end of my second month as President, like most of you the daily struggles of rosters, wages and inflation and everything else that goes with it are consuming my days. From first thing in the morning to the last thing at night we seem to be trying to find a way to get over the many hurdles that are put in our way. It’s ironic that this time 2 years ago most of us decided that takeaway was the way forward, thoughts at the time involved trying to decide on which staff could you bring back and who where you going to leave at home. How times have changed, now we see gastropubs and restaurants all over the country restricting their opening hours because of the lack of staff. The new norm is to see a sign “Closed for the night, no staff”. It is a very worrying time as our whole sector struggles to fill the most basic of rosters.

Welcomed news in the last couple of weeks were the announcements by Ministers’ McEntee and O’Brien regarding the outdoor dining licences, in particular the right to serve alcohol in these areas and the working permissions for Stamp 2 visa holders this summer.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee was given cabinet approval to extend the legislation for a further 6 months until 30th of November 2022. Also all fees associated with the cost of putting out your street furniture as part of your section 254 planning permission have also been waived for the rest of the year.

The other welcomed news and one which will help to alleviate some of the staffing issues is that Students who have completed their maximum of three eight-month English language courses and intend to enrol in third level for an undergraduate or graduate course beginning in the autumn, will be able to apply for a short-term letter of permission based on their proof of application/enrolment. Students with a valid Stamp 2 permission may work up to 20 hours a week while they are studying in Ireland. During the months of June, July, August and September and from 15 December to 15 January students may work up to 40 hours per week.

Calories Calories Calories, I thought that this topic had gone away but unfortunately its back. I fully understand the need for discussion on the topic but there’s a reason no other county has adopted it. We have far more troubling issues affecting our hospitality businesses at the moment without having to deal with this, and as we have said all along “Education not regulation”, this I feel is the only way to tackle the issue. We need to start educating our youth at primary level, so by the time they get to secondary they will know the nutritional value of foods and what a balanced meal is. Ask 9 out of 10 children right now and I fear for the answer.

I was delighted to see the recent announcement that the Irish Restaurant Awards are coming back to us for 2022, with nominations opening this Wednesday and Regional Events happening at the end of the summer. The Regionals will be followed by the Awards All Ireland Final, held in September this year and will give us all a well-deserved night of celebration. It will be a proud night for the industry signifying how far we have come in recent times. Public Nominations open for the Irish Restaurant Awards in two days time, encourage your customers to nominate your staff where you can, this year in particular I think it’s important that we promote our industry as one that can provide you with a great career, what better way to encourage our young staff is there other than for them to see their names and their peers up in lights and getting recognised for their achievements in management, customer service and cheffing.

But before we get to the Awards, we have to get through this summer ahead, for some of you things will be hard, staffing remains a huge problem, costs are out of control but hopefully they will begin to stabilise and reduce by the end of the summer. Best of luck to you all.

Wishing you all a happy June bank holiday Monday, I hope the month ahead is a good one for you all and that by July’s update our summer has finally arrived…….

Yours in hospitality

Paul Lenehan – President