Guinness & Sky pitch in
The Guinness fund will see a €1.2 million support package for bar staff alongside a further €300,000 to elderly vulnerable people through a partnership with Alone and its Befriending service.
“We’ve been supporting the licensed trade in the last week through what is an unprecedented period as we all work together to keep people safe through the closure of licensed premises across the country,” said Diageo Ireland Country Director Oliver Loomes, “Today we’re announcing an additional support of €1.5 million, including €1.2 million to bar staff and we’ll be working with our partners in the trade, the Licensed Vintners Association and Vintners’ Federation of Ireland on how we can support bar staff to maximum effect using this funding in what’s a very fast-moving situation.”
The move by Guinness was welcomed by the Licensed Vintners Association’s Donall O’Keeffe who said, “These are unprecedented times and it’s important that we pull together and show solidarity among the bar community. In addition the funding for services for older people is much needed and builds on the partnership that we already have in place with Alone and Guinness addressing isolation among our elderly community”.
VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben added, “With the closure of pubs around the country in a bid to protect their local communities it reminds us of the importance of looking out for each other through these most challenging times.”
Along with its additional funding of €300,000 for Alone, Guinness is also asking staff members to pledge time to support the charity’s Befriending service.
Alone’s Chief Executive Sean Moynihan stated, “Guinness have been supporting us for over three years in a bid to address social isolation, but it’s now that we need this most.
“Today’s news of an additional €300,000 is going to make a significant impact. This support will help us to continue to provide vital services to older people who need additional support and are experiencing increased social isolation at this time.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we’ve been receiving a huge volume of phone calls to our helpline from older people all over Ireland and delivering support seven days a week to those who need it. This will enable us to continue to deliver and expand these much-needed services.”
Today’s announcement is part of a wider initiative where Guinness and Diageo have pledged in the region of €3 million globally to communities and the bar trade, with similar funds in the US and UK. This includes £1 million to support bartenders in the free trade across Great Britain.
Sky Business too has taken account of the hardships imposed on the Irish licensed trade by the coronavirus.
In a statement this afternoon, Simon Raggett, Managing Director for Sky Business, said, “We understand that these are challenging times for many of our Sky Business venues who rely on showing live sport in a social environment to attract customers and revenue.
“Supporting these businesses and doing what we can to help them in uncertain times is very important to us. We would like to reassure our Sky Business venues that from 14th March we will not be charging them for their Sky Sports service until a live sport schedule returns.”
The broadcaster has confirmed that it will be writing to pubs to confirm this development.
The decision finally made by Sky to suspend Sky Sports charges for pubs has also been welcomed by the Licensed Vintners Association which had been working on this issue since the pub closures were announced, with many members contacting it about the significant charges imposed by Sky.
“We’re pleased to see that Sky has now relented on this issue following our engagement and a massive social media campaign led by our Vice Chairman Noel Anderson,” stated the LVA which continues to engage with a number of other companies and businesses on behalf of its members to bring forward measures that will assist publicans in light of the current crisis.
“This work is ongoing,” it stated, “We will keep members informed as soon as there are any concrete developments.”
The VFI’s Spokesman Brian Foley told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Our members are very relieved that Sky have decided to cease charging from March 14th. With the absence of live TV Sport for the foreseeable future it was unsustainable to demand payment for a product that doesn’t exist.
“We hope other TV subscription services follow Sky’s lead.”