€2m Drumshanbo Visitor Centre on hold?

The Managing Director of the distillery behind Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, The Shed’s PJ RIgney, has threatened to abandon plans for a €2 million Visitor Centre at the County Leitrim distillery because of the advertising restrictions contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill currently making its way through the Dáil.

He wrote of his concerns about the Bill in a letter to the Fine Gael TD for Sligo-Leitrim Tony McLoughlin.
In the letter PJ Rigney stated, “I am travelling & writing this note in the early hours – a distraction my team & I don’t need in a very competitive international market. I am deeply unhappy with Fine Gael’s approach to this bill, the lack of consultation & the propagation of outdated stereotypes & suspect research on alcohol consumption & its health effects provided by lobbyists in the health sector, some of whom appear to have an extreme & narrow agenda.”
His letter continued, “I am particularly concerned with the changes to advertising & labelling some of which is pure nonsense & will affect our investment & jobs in Leitrim. We hope to achieve planning for the enhanced new Visitors Experience next week in Drumshanbo.”
However the Drumshambo Gunpowder Gin chief warned, “I am considering cancelling the project & will have no choice but to put the cause of the cancellation at the foot of this bill unless sense prevails & it is balanced.”
He asked the Fine Gael TD to speak at second stage in the Dáil on the need to balance the objective of the bill with the need to protect the growing Irish whiskey industry including tourism.
He also requested that the TD proposes or seeks the introduction of reasonable amendments at committee or report stage to achieve this.
“Balance is a word lost in this Bill” commented The Fianna Fáil TD for Leitrim-Sligo, who spoke in the Dáil of his own concerns along with those of other TDs such as the Fine Gael TD for Kildare Bernard Durkan and Kevin O’Keeffe, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East.
He stated that the advertising restrictions contained in the Bill to the effect that no advertising was permitted within 200 metres of a school or crèche meant that people like PJ Rigney could not promote his business in large parts of Dublin and other cities.
He also rejected the assumption that alcohol companies had deep pockets and so could afford these losses.
“We employ 18 people and are a small start-up creating high-quality Irish products who expect to employ another 20 more,” said PJ Rigney who considers the present Bill to be “extreme, unbalanced, and prohibitionist”.



Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free