Paul Cullen, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, The Irish Times
The biggest falls were recorded in the Border, Midlands and Western (BMW) counties, where 227 pub licences were lost, and in counties Kerry, Cork, Clare and Limerick, where licences fell by 130. In contrast, Dublin lost just 10 licences and the rest of Leinster 70. While pub numbers are plummeting, the off-licence trade is booming.
There were 46 additional off-licences in Munster last year, 155 in Leinster and 46 in Dublin. Vintners' groups have been warning about the difficulties faced by rural pubs since the smoking ban was introduced in 2004 and random breath-testing started last year.
However, these figures are even worse than they predicted, as the opening of new pubs in urban centres is partly offset by a bigger fall in pub licences in rural areas. "People want to drink at home, or in hotels." Although drink licensing has been liberalised in recent years, it is still necessary to extinguish one drinks licence to create another. Many rural pub licences are being bought by business interests who use the permit to open an urban pub or off-licence.According to Ms Cassidy, the market price for a pub licence is about €175,000-€185,000, compared to about €85,000 in 2000. Overall, there are about 8,500 pubs in the State.
T & H Doolans, Waterford City