Drinks companies get ‘free advertising’ from awnings donated to pubs and restaurants

Drinks companies get ‘free booze advertisements’ by providing partitions and awnings with their logos for pubs and restaurants offering outdoor dining, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said such advertising of alcohol in businesses that serve outside was against the spirit of government policy and legislation in this area, referring to legislation aimed at limiting such advertising in other forms.

“Is there anything that can be done to make sure that doesn’t happen?” he asked Minister Darragh O’Brien at the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Mr O’Brien said it was something he would raise with the government and the Oireachtas.

“I guess over the last couple of years a lot of the big beverage companies have been providing these canopies, and various other things like umbrellas for free to companies that were struggling at the time,” he said. .

“But I think now we need to look at how we can actually use a more uniform approach. In some departments, the local authorities provided the street furniture as well as the awnings and also the partitions. They are therefore uniform. And they look better, frankly, too.

The committee was meeting as the government proposes to continue waiving the €125 fee pubs and restaurants have to pay for outdoor tables and chairs.

Outdoor dining in a pub in Dublin. Minister Darragh O’Brien told the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage: “In some counties local authorities have provided the street furniture, as well as the awnings and also the partitions. So they are uniform. And they look better, frankly, as well.” File photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Introduced as the country emerged from pandemic restrictions, it was a measure to support businesses at times when they could only serve customers abroad. This decision was supported by TDs and senators from all political backgrounds at the meeting.

Mr O’Brien also told the committee that local spaces now used “more productively” since the pandemic should not be “returned to cars”.

“I would encourage local authorities, on the measures that have been taken through Covid, to consider how best to make them permanent through the appropriate processes, enhancing our public realm,” he said.

But enforcement would also be important against those who had not applied for the proper license, the minister added.

Labor housing spokeswoman Rebecca Moynihan said she welcomed the minister’s comments and said our cities needed to be made ‘more livable, walkable and cycleable’.

Ms Moynihan said there is a wider issue about delegated powers to local governments to set their own regulations for managing traffic in certain areas, such as allowing outside markets.

Mr. O’Brien replied that local authorities have “as many decentralized powers as they need in this space”.

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