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Quarter of Mayo pubs have closed since 2005


Anton McNulty

A QUARTER of all Mayo pubs have closed over a 16-year period with 22 pubs remaining closed following the Covid-19 pandemic.
A new report from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has shown that between 2005 and 2021, 117 pubs in Co Mayo have closed which is a decline of 25.1 percent.
The report called ‘The Irish Pub: Stopping the Decline’ is based on the group’s analysis of Revenue license data and including an economic and social analysis by Dublin City University (DCU) economist Anthony Foley. It shows the number of pub closures in Co Mayo is above the national figure where there has been a 21.2 percent decline in the number of pubs in Ireland from 2005 to 2021. 
All 26 counties experienced declines in pub numbers through the 16-year period. The largest decrease was seen in Laois with 30.6 percent less pubs since 2005 and this was the only county with a decrease of 30 percent or more.
The lowest decrease was in Meath with 1.4 percent less followed by Dublin, reporting a decrease of only 4.3 percent. All the remaining 23 counties had decreases greater than 10 percent
Mayo was among nine counties which saw decreases between 25 and 29.9 percent with Co Leitrim and Co Roscommon experiencing a decrease of 26.4 percent and 28.3 percent respectively. There was a 24 percent decrease in Co Sligo while Co Galway’s decrease was by 20.6 percent.

Supports needed
The Vintners Federation of Ireland described the figures as alarming and called for supports to be put in place to stop the decline.
“The pace of decline increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw the drinks and hospitality industry suffer the worst of all, with one of the longest lockdowns recorded globally,” said Paul Clancy, DIGI member and CEO of the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
“Considering this sharp decline and trend we’re witnessing, we need to monitor this industry carefully and ensure all the necessary supports are in place to contribute to stopping this trend.
“Our high alcohol excise tax is a cost and slows the growth of these businesses and impacts their day-to-day operations and bottom line, exasperated currently with inflation and the cost of living. We are calling on the Government to reduce excise tax to support the industry with meaningful measures that will be felt immediately and reduce costs over night for tens of thousands of business owners.”
Commenting on DIGI’s report, economist and Associate Professor Emeritus, DCU Anthony Foley noted that the pub closures have had a negative social impact on communities.
“Pubs serve as a vital social outlet for many people, particularly in rural Ireland. With people living there faced by the spectre of rural decline, preserving the cultural heritage of the Irish pub in Ireland is arguably a progressive course of action.
“Economic and business sustainability is one of the several determining factors of closures of small public houses. Addressing high excise would have a positive effect on the commercial sustainability of small public houses and would be a strong element in the wider policy strategy to support rural areas. It is a measure which is completely within the scope of Government,” he said.