More than 1,200 publicans from all across Ireland have attended a virtual conference with an address from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
The Tánaiste was joined by Professor Luke O’Neill, David McWilliams and a panel of industry experts to look ahead to the coming weeks and months as the sector slowly begins to reopen across the Island of Ireland.
The conference was an all island event brought together by the three publican trade associations, the Licenced Vintners Association, Vintners Federation of Ireland and Hospitality Ulster, supported by the Guinness Raising the Bar initiative.
Raising the Bar is a €14m fund to help support trade across the island of Ireland to re-open their doors and recover following the COVID 19 pandemic.
The focus of the conference was to look at how the industry can emerge stronger than ever post lockdown. The agenda included sessions on the use of digital marketing, the role of outdoor spaces, emerging and future consumer trends, learnings from abroad featuring Jack McGarry from the Dead Rabbit in New York, as well as addressing the increasingly critical issues of staff recruitment and retention.
Speaking at the conference Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “I want to say to publicans, that I can only imagine how tough the last year has been. Nobody thought you would be closed for so long. This is the big reopening and we want to make sure you never have to close again.”
The Tánaiste also shared his hopes for the resumption of indoor hospitality in July.
Professor Luke O’Neill spoke of his desire to get back to past times that have been curtailed during the pandemic, telling publicans: “One thing I’ve really missed is going to the pub for a couple of pints or even playing the occasional gig with The Metabollix. Friends overseas can’t believe that not a single pub has been open in Dublin for over a year. This can be done safely if we get full vaccination and follow the guidelines so here’s to the return of pub life – outdoors first and then hopefully indoors again.”