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Publicans fear loyalty card may affect ‘brand' of Clonakilty

December 2nd, 2016 2:25 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Molly's Bar was granted a licence in Clonakilty Court last week.

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A PUBLICAN has defended his plan to operate a loyalty card scheme for his customers in his new bar in Clonakilty.

Local businesses are worried that Michael Cambridge’s plans for Molly’s Bar – which he plans to open this weekend as The Fluffy Duck – will damage the town’s image.

Mr Cambridge was last week granted a licence to run the McCurtain Hill bar.  But a number of other publicans in the town had signed a letter, cautioning the granting of the licence because of the ‘loyalty card’ plan.

Speaking to The Southern Star this week, Mr Cambridge said he fully intends to work with all other publicans in the town to keep Clonakilty the great tourist destination that it is. 

The pub licence was granted despite objections from the gardaí and the letter of caution from other publicans regarding the impact that such a scheme could have on the image of the town.

‘There has been a lot of media coverage on the loyalty card but I would like to say that the card is but a small part of my overall business plan,’ said Michael. ‘My overall objective is to highlight how expensive alcohol is to buy in Ireland and since I introduced the loyalty card scheme in my other bar, O’Dwyer’s in Kanturk, I have had great support from my customers.’

Earlier, Sinéad Crowley, who runs An Súgán and Arís Café & Wine Bar, and signed the letter with other publicans, was keen to stress competition in the town was welcome. But she said there was a fear that running loyalty card schemes in pubs may undo the good work that the people of Clonakilty have put into the town and damage its image. ‘We’re concerned about what this would do to the brand of Clonakilty, which the both business owners and community groups have worked so hard to build,’ said Sinéad.

‘We’ve just won the Best Town in the UK and Ireland at last week’s Urbanism Awards and we want to maintain that good image. We highlighted our concerns at last week’s licensing application and the negatives a loyalty card scheme could bring to the town.’

Gardaí believe the loyalty card could lead to excessive drinking and disorderly behaviour in the town. However, Judge James McNulty granted Mr Cambridge the licence because the regulations regarding such schemes have yet to be enacted by the government.

Insp Fergal Foley, who opposed the application, told The Southern Star that the gardaí had no problem with the publican or the premises, and that it is solely the loyalty card scheme that they had concerns about.

‘Our problem is that the issue of loyalty cards is a grey area as it is on the statute books, but it hasn’t been put into force. These schemes could lead to excessive drinking, as well as disorderly behaviour,’ he said.

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