Business

Lack of Stormont government costing hospitality sector 'millions of pounds'

Hospitality Ulster has said the continued lack of a Northern Ireland Assembly is like being trapped in a scene from Father Ted
Gareth McKeown

THE lack of a functioning Stormont government is costing the north's hospitality sector tens of millions of pounds, an industry body has warned.

Hospitality Ulster has said the continued lack of a Northern Ireland Assembly is like being trapped in a scene from popular 90s TV show, Father Ted, but rather than being funny it is now threatening the very future of the local hospitality industry.

Speaking ahead of the Hospitality Ulster AGM, which takes place today, chief executive, Colin Neill cited the lack of progress to modernise liquor licensing as one of the major gripes within the industry. A draft Licensing Bill to change laws such as Easter opening hours, was put paid to by the Stormont collapse and remains the subject of anger from many working in the hospitality sector.

"Both the current and future potential of the hospitality sector is being damaged with outdated legislation, crippling business rates, and a lack of access to labour, due to the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland," Mr Neill said.

“It's like Father Ted, where the intentions are good, but descends into never ending calamity. We have now found ourselves caught up in a farcical episode on repeat.”

"We simply cannot continue with no decisions being made and the political paralysis stopping our industry from growing and developing. We are regressing through inertia and having to live with the consequences of the fact that the Assembly and Executive isn't in operation.

"We can't keep saying, go on, go on, go on… we need our elected representatives to get back, get stuck in and give the hospitality sector the tools it needs to do the job," he added.

The Hospitality Ulster AGM comes after the organisation published figures earlier this month stating that every four days a pub in Northern Ireland closes. The data covering 2016 and 2017 revealed that almost 90 pub closed in the north, with five successive years of increases in beer tax cited as a a major factor.

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