There have been calls for the café culture to be expanded in Dundalk with funding to help coffee shops and restaurants develop outdoor dining.
While it is hoped Covid-19 restrictions will be further eased with the rollout of vaccinations, National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) member Philip Nolan has said it’s clear “we’re looking at an outdoor summer” in 2021.
The Cathaoirleach of Dundalk Municipal District Emma Coffey called for Louth County Council to demand to be included as one of the local authorities to avail of the Fáilte Ireland outdoor dining Scheme.
She highlighted that only eight areas were to be included in the outdoor dining scheme - Dublin, Killarney, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Cork, Athlone and Kilkenny – while 18 counties, including Louth, were being excluded.
However, Cllr Coffey said she understood from information she had received last Monday morning before the Louth County Council meeting – where she was putting forward the motion - that the funding is now open to all counties.
She urged Louth County Council to “think outside the box” to help the hospitality industry develop outdoor areas for dining in Dundalk and the rest of the county.
“The outdoor dining scheme was only including a small number of counties, basically city counties”, the Fianna Fail councillor said.
“Louth County Council has taken the initiative a number of months ago in relation to outdoor dining and supports.
“I have a serious issue that Failte Ireland is neglecting counties that are outside the main city areas.
“I understand from information I have received that this funding is now open to all 26 counties which is positive.
“I know Louth county Council made a request to Ireland’s Ancient East and Failte Ireland to be included in the scheme, which I thank them for.
“I am conscious of the strains of space and space will become a premium, but I think it is more important than ever that we think outside the box in relation to assisting our service industry.
“There have been a lot of negatives throughout the pandemic, but the positives are people are spending a lot more time at outdoor areas and perhaps the café culture can be expanded, particularly in the evening time.
“I see it in Dundalk myself walking around town in the evening; there are a lot of people and families out and about and I would call on the council to support that aspect of living now and maybe take some positives out of this pandemic.”