Louth TD says outdoor dining grant does not go far enough

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Louth TD says outdoor dining grant  does not go far enough

Louth TD Imelda Munster

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Tourism Imelda Munster TD has expressed concern that the €5million allocated by the government for businesses to improve their outdoor dining facilities will not be sufficient.

The Louth TD questioned the Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin TD at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on the government’s grant scheme for outdoor dining.

The scheme has two separate funding streams – one for individual businesses and one for local authorities.

Teachta Munster said:“The €17million in total for outdoor dining grants is to be welcomed.

“However I was surprised to hear at the meeting that only €5million of that will be given to individual businesses under the Outdoor Seating and Accessories for Tourism and Hospitality Services grant.

“Each business can claim a maximum of €4,000, which means that only 1250 businesses would avail of the grant if they all were granted the maximum amount.

“We have over 7,000 pubs, over 2,406 restaurants and 983 hotels in this state. While it is true that not all of these businesses will be in a position to provide outdoor dining and will therefore not be eligible for the grant, it does illustrate that €5million will not go very far.

"This is particularly worrying given that several experts have said that hospitality will be taking place outdoors for the most part this summer, and many businesses will be very reliant on outdoor dining in order to survive this year.

“Tourism and hospitality have suffered extreme hardship in the last 13 months, and we need to ensure that they have significant support in order to help them have the best summer season possible, given the circumstances this year.

“We need further clarification about this grant. At the committee meeting, Minister Martin said that €12million of the total sum of €17million will be spent on grants for each local authority to improve their outdoor facilities under the Weatherproofing and Outdoor Dining Infrastructure Scheme.

"Given the maximum grant is €200,000 for each local authority, it is not clear where the remaining €5.8million from that portion of the grant will be spent.

"What is clear is that additional funding will likely be needed for the Outdoor Seating and Accessories for Tourism and Hospitality services grant, as €5million will not go far.

“I will be following up with Minister Martin on this matter as time is really of the essence as we move towards the summer months.”