25th President of Restaurants Association of Ireland promises to “steer industry back to normality” with costs of doing business, skills shortage and 9% VAT rate priorities

The 25th President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, is Kildare man Paul Lenehan. Mr Lenehan is the owner and operator of Harte’s Gastropub and the Dew Drop Inn and also the newly opened Firecastle in Kildare. Paul has experience in all areas of the Hospitality sector, completing the GMIT Hotel & Catering Management Course in 2001 and gaining experience working in every role since 1999, from housekeeping, to bar tending, to food and beverage right up to General Management in Hotels, from Wexford to Frankfurt. Paul faces a challenging term over the next two years with rising business costs, skills shortages and the 9% VAT rate campaign a main focus.

Speaking as the Presidency was handed over Paul concluded: “I promise to work hard and diligently to help steer our industry back to normality. It’s not going to be easy, it never is, but the Restaurant Association of Ireland is a strong and dynamic organisation and works hard for its members and lobbies the Government in Ireland Europe.”

CEO Adrian Cummins said of the appointment; “We are delighted to have Paul Lenehan as the new President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland and myself and the National Council look forward to working with Paul to ensure a vibrant recovery for the entire Restaurant and Hospitality Sector over the next two years. We will lobby hard to ensure that Government support our Sector in recovery, we were once a thriving employer and the largest indigenous industry within Ireland, with our exceptional food and service and we can be again with the right supports.”

As is tradition at the Restaurants Association of Ireland President’s Dinner, outgoing President Mark McGowan presented the Mike Butt Award, named for one of the founding members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland and awarded in honour of an individual’s exceptional contribution to the Irish Food & Tourism Industry. This year’s recipient was Olivia Duff of the Headfort Arms and Maperath farm in Kells. Presenting the award to Olivia, Mark praised her “passion for developing the local area from producers, suppliers and food service level which is unparalleled…and unbelievable way of inspiring business leaders and bringing people together making the Boyne Valley a regional powerhouse of Irish food.”

RAI President Paul Lenehan with outgoing RAI President Mark McGowan
25th RAI President Paul Lenehan of Kildare
Outgoing RAI President Mark McGowan presents Mike Butt Award to 2022 recipient Olivia Duff