Without a hint of dissent the vintners of Laois voted unanimously against implementing the smoking ban in the county’s licensed premises at a general meeting held in the Killeshin Hotel yesterday (Tuesday, October 21).
And next week publicans from across the country will converge on Portlaoise to vent their annoyance at a national rally. This rally has been organised after the grass roots members of the Vintners Federation of Ireland demanded a platform to vent their frustration concerning the Government’s proposals on smoking prohibition on their premises.
The twelfth county to come out against the ban, the Laois publicans joined the ranks of their fellows in Kerry, Cork, Tipperary, Galway, Donegal, Mayo, Waterford, Wexford, Clare, Carlow and Cavan, to voice their absolute disapproval with a policy they claim will threaten livelihoods and is an assault on an individual’s personal freedom.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Dick Dunne, immediate past president of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said: “That was the biggest meeting we have ever had of the Laois publicans.
Our members are very angry with the way the law stands at the moment and they feel it would be grossly unfair to fine the publican because somebody else was smoking on their premises.
The biggest problem we have is that in the months leading up to the Minister’s (Micheal Martin, Minister for Health and Children) announcement, we were working with an English company doing air audits at our own behest and everything seemed to be going fine.
Our members were implementing their recommendations and others were installing state of the art ventilators, but out of the blue the Minister left us high and dry and announced the ban without any consultation.”
Mr Dunne pointed out that these air audits were the publicans’ idea and it was such a progressive move that the Western Health Board gave it their backing to such an extent that they were handing out certificates for air quality in pubs in the West of Ireland.
Also at yesterday’s meeting was Leinster vice-president of the VFI, Seamus Donoghue, who said he was annoyed at the short-sightedness of the smoking ban.
Mr Donoghue said: “If health is such an issue what’s going to happen when people stay at home and smoke in an environment where there is no deliberate ventilation and where children are present? Children are going to suffer, it’s wrong to have one health system for workers and one for children.
“Our members are up in arms,” he added.