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Wow. My favourite publicans' representative group has declared a freeze on the price of drink for the next year, effective immediately. I'm sure there's a fast one being pulled here somewhere, because I am naturually cynical and suspicious of these clowns, but hey, nice move.
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The VFI are still the same bunch of misanthropes as the last time I checked: they're expected to criticise proposals to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers, because let's face it, people should be allowed drink and drive, nanny state, our own business, etc. etc. etc.

And Bank of Ireland aren't quite done on their admission of laptop losses; apparently they lost one in Kildare 7 years ago. The bank seems to be treating it as an unconfirmed allegation, while RTÉ seems to be taking it as fact.
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The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has called on drinks suppliers to refrain from imposing a price increase next month and has asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee to support a freeze of further price rises.
Of course, it’s only customer-benefiting by side-effect:
[VFI president Mr Séamus O’Donoghue] said over 200 pubs had closed since the introduction of the smoking ban in March 2004 and that “few, if any” could afford increased costs on a profit margin of 32c per pint sold.
He also quoted several other gloomy figures, such as volume sales down by anywhere from 10 to 25 per cent, and how prosecutions taken against breaches of the anti-smoking legislation were exclusively against the pubs and in no cases against the customers who were smoking. Strange; I seem to recall that the people who assumed that if the pub said it was ok, they could smoke (in Galway, shortly after the introduction of the ban), were prosecuted. The nice thing about being in a lobby group is that you don’t need actual facts to back up your statements, just vehemence and indignance and things of that nature.

(of course, I don’t have anything to back up my perspective, either. A report published in December 2004 mentions that 11 premises have been prosecuted (one being fined €100 rather than the maximum fine of €3,000), and the actual legislation, as best I can tell, is mostly concerned with business owners who break the law, so Mr. O’D may indeed be correct in his assertion that it’s all about prosecuting the publicans)
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Our Minister for Adequate Consumption of Alcohol is currently proposing a number of changes to the licensing laws; mostly rolling up the existing patchwork of laws into a single new bloc law, but also he's mentioned introducing a "continental-style" café-bar license. The main ways in which this would differ from existing pub licenses is that it would only be applicable to small premises, the premises would not be allowed to serve "take-aways" (that's effectively off-license sales, as opposed to three batter burgers and a bag of curried chips) and the premises would have to provide hot meals at all times (there's currently, I think, a "club license" which allows you to remain open until 1:30 as long as you serve hot food at some point during the evening.).

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland have come out against this proposed new license, apparently on the grounds that it will reduce business for their members. Now, while this may well be the case, I will once more draw attention to the fact that these are the guys who, prior to the smoking ban's introduction, ridiculed the offical figures on deaths attributable to smoking, encouraged their members NOT TO PAY TAX to fight the smoking ban, engaged in price-fixing along with the Licenced Vintner's Association in 1996/1997 (for which proceedings were initiated, and the last available update was that they "gave undertakings in the High Court" (Competition Authority Annual Report 2003); I have the High Court record number, but it appears not to be something I can access online), supported Diageo's price increases solely on the grounds that said prices hadn't been raised in 18 months, and called for an end to Happy Hour and similar promotions. And as such, I have NO sympathy for them whatsoever.
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Before the smoking ban came in, I was pretty laid back about the whole thing; I didn't mind the fact that the air in my local made other, more sensitive peoples' eyes water, or that I'd have to toss everything in the laundry pretty much immediately after a night out. Now that the ban's in place, I'm feeling more and more peeved at people who insist that screwing up my health and my clothing - and, more to the point, the health of the barstaff - is some sort of right that has been removed from them. One of my barmen tells me that there's a high court challenge, and a politican is calling for the Vintners Federation and whoever else to get together and sponsor a consitutional challenge. Where the hell does it say in the constitution that you can wilfully endanger others just to satisfy your own addiction? Is it under the bit that says you have to drink Guinness in order to qualify for citizenship?
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According to the Vitners' Federation of Ireland, there's been a "significant drop" in business since the introduction of the smoking ban. The VFI is the same group that said it was okay for Diageo to add 6¢ to the price of a pint on the grounds that the price hasn't gone up in 18 months, and also the group that advocated pubs not paying their taxes if the smoking ban was introduced, and for good measure the group that ridiculed figures for the number of smoking-related deaths in Ireland. I think this may colour a lot of opinions on their claims, whether true or not.

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