April 26 – May 30, 2024

We know your name Revel in Clonakilty is one of a number of cafes and restaurants in West Cork who have come together to start a national campaign to get the government to sit up and take notice of the challenges facing small business owners around the country and lower the VAT rate for the hospitality sector to nine per cent. Aisling O’Leary of Revel shares how the campaign got off the ground and why it’s so critical that the government listen, not just for businesses who are struggling to stay open, but for the communities they serve.

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W e know your name. We know your coffee order. We know you’re wearing a new pair of glasses. We know you’re expecting your first child or that you’re struggling with your teenager. We know you’re excited about your upcoming vacation, you’re working your arse off building your own home, you’re dealing with health issues. We know you’re struggling with your new job. That you’re allergic to dairy, you’re visiting your daughter overseas. We know you’re fed up. We know you’re sneaking in for a quiet coffee before school pickups. We know you’re after burying a loved one. We know. And we care. Now imagine your ‘local’

being replaced with a chain such as Starbucks when all they see is stars in their eyes as they make big bucks. Forbes and I opened our doors March 2020, excited to become a part of the Clon- akilty community. There is an indescribable warmth in West Cork which we have felt from the get-go. The support has been constant and steadfast. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for the Government. While efforts of support were made during Covid, the current situation is daunting, to say the least. The VAT rate for the hospitality industry has been returned to 13.5 per cent which has become crippling to small businesses such as our own. One might understand the VAT “As small business owners we’re used to working all day every day, it’s what we signed up for, and we absolutely love it. But when there’s no money left in the pot at the end of the week, it can be very disheartening. Reinstating the nine per cent VAT rate will give us some breathing room, and allow us to continue to re-investing into our busi- ness and community.” Liam O’Leary, Wazzy Woo, Clonakilty.

rate being increased to 13.5 per cent, however the Gov- ernment has failed to consider the fact that all costs have been increased in recent times: Wages, PRSI, electricity, rates, insurance and a considerable nationwide inflation. While having a heart- to-heart with another local business owner, we collectively agreed that the increase in VAT was breaking us. We came to the conclusion that action needed to be taken. Voices needed to be heard. Govern- ment needed to be reached. A small WhatsApp group chat was created and with that; the movement began. Liam from Wazzy Woo, Ryan and Anne Marie from Pike Deli, Peter and Elaine from The Fish- basket, Gavin from Monk’s Lane, Jamie from Budd’s, Vic and Deborah from Camus Farm Field Kitchen and Revel joined arms. Standing alone would mean we all fall. Pulling together means there is hope, albeit sometimes it feels like only a sliver. While countless politicians have publicly stated their support, it would seem that our future lies within the hands of Michael McGrath, Minister of Finance. Suppos- edly, returning the VAT to nine per cent is a “big job”, but tell me, what would the Irish economy look like without all the small businesses? While we



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