The economic black hole being faced by many wet pubs was discussed in a heated exchange of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council last night (Monday).
Sinn Féin Councillor Garath Keating addressed the economic difficulties being faced by many bars and public houses across the area and demanded that an exclusion preventing bars, which do not serve food, from applying to Council for a café pavement license, be removed from the policy.
DUP representatives argued that wet pubs were not included in the policy to begin with and queried why this needed to change.
However, the Ulster Unionists questioned the need for a blanket policy as the issue was not black and white for every business and that each pub should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
The proposal, brought by Councillor Keating, sought to open up a Council scheme permitting alcohol to be served outside, to applications from bars that don’t serve food, who are excluded from applying to the scheme.
Speaking to Armagh I Councillor Keating reiterated the importance of traditional bars to the vibrancy of our City and town centres and their contribution to our evening and entertainment economy.
“Given the challenges being faced by those businesses, to outright exclude them from even being considered for a continental style pavement license is obscene and hugely unfair,” he said.
In the absence of agreement on the issue on Monday night the matter has been listed for further debate at the Covid Working Group of the Council this evening (Tuesday).