KINSALE native Liam Edwards, the newly-elected president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), is aiming to increase the organisation’s membership from 2.500 to 3,000 during his term in office.
Edwards, 43, is the proprietor of the family-owned Jim Edwards in his hometown and his appointment was announced at the RAI’s 46th AGM and conference at Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo, recently.
‘I am truly honoured to be considered for this position of president,’ he said.
‘The last two years have been a challenge for industry. The RAI has stood its ground on myriad issues including the 9% VAT rate, the sunshine tax on outdoor seating, encouraging an understanding of food and nutrition on the secondary school curriculum, and trying to reason with government over the senseless need for calorie counting on menus – on the latter, I fail to see how a restaurant’s one dish a month to a family eating out can be implicated in the obesity epidemic ballooning in Ireland.’
Edwards is keen to increase membership of the organisation, brining in restaurants who are not availing of the RAI’s assistance.
‘The RAI has 2,500 members,’ he said, ‘it is a group whose foundations are steeped in industry knowledge, an understanding of food and an endeavour to serve up that knowledge to the public, on a plate, quite literally.
‘There are businesses doing this and struggling individually without our support because they might not know of our work or the benefits of being part of this mass-food collective. One of my aims is to remedy this, to expand our membership and bring the RAI to over 3,000 members.
He said he now looked forward to working with likeminded groups – the Irish Hotels Federation, the Licensed Vintners Association and Vintners Association of Ireland.
In addition to his new role, Liam is also currently chairperson of the Kinsale Good Food Circle and Council, a group established in 1971 by the town’s restaurant industry.