There are a few rules or laws that are holding Moville businesses back. I must say, first of all, that I don’t know if these are national or local rules. You may know better than I do.

1. One of the main reasons why the 48-bedroomed Caiseal Mara is still shut is the punitive business rates. I’m told these are €10,000 a month. Even if someone bought the Caiseal Mara for €175,000 they would have Business Rates of €120,000 a year to pay even before you factor in any running costs.

This is where the Government should step in. There must be lots of hotels, restaurants and pubs all over Ireland that could open again if it wasn’t for punitive Business Rates. Perhaps they could bring in some law that would allow these businesses to pay less for the first three years they are reopened. Maybe they could pay nothing the first year, €3,000 a month for the 2nd year and €6,000 a month for the 3rd year before going back to normal.

2. Unlike in virtually every other Western country, Ireland makes a premises have tax liability rather than the owner. In most countries they would set up a limited company and if the pub, restaurant or hotel went bust the company went bust too. There was Limited Liability. All the debts went down with it. So the taxman gets nothing unless they have some assets that can be sold off.

In Ireland it is the premises that has the tax liability. If someone wants to buy the premises and the business they have to pay the previous owner’s tax liabilities for the business and premises.

This is a system rejected by countries like he USA, Canada, Germany and the UK for good reasons. It stops good businesses springing up to replace the bad ones. This is stopping businesses all over Ireland from re-opening with new owners. It also means that the Government misses out on the tax they would pay and on the tax that anyone employed by them would pay.

3. Late night licences for places like the Town Clock (now Big Ben’s) used to be €210. The Government (or local authority) has shoved them up to €410 a night. They also moved last orders from 2:30am to 2:00am even with a late licence.

It used to be that people only went up to the Town Clock when the other pubs were winding down and it would only really start filling up at about 1pm. When you take into account that bouncers might cost about €80 each, the DJ maybe €100 and add on business rates, staff costs and heating and lighting on top of the €410 a night licence costs that is an awful lot of beer that would have to be sold in an hour.

The Government (or local authority) should take a look at this again. It is keeping loads of pubs like Big Ben’s shut all over Ireland. I’m told that late licences are much cheaper in the UK.

4. The Government said that they were going to focus on tourism to bring the economy out of recession. The Year of The Gathering has been a big success and in Donegal recent figures showed that visitor numbers were up 6% to 7% from last year.

However, they (or the local authority) have stuck up the price of Festival Licences from €150 to €750. That’s an astonishing rise and a huge disincentive for towns to get late licences. There are now fewer pubs to share the costs. With other costs it takes the cost of a late licence for a festival up from a previous €700 to a current €1,500.

Previously if 5 pubs came in it cost them €140 each. Now, if three pubs come in it costs them €500 each. As a result, for the first time, the pubs didn’t put in for late licences at the DylanFest and BeatlesFest. As a result, the Government got nothing. This would mean that the people working there would get fewer hours and pay less tax. It would also mean that the pubs got less income and would pay less tax too. It also means that visitors would appreciate it less and would be less likely to come back.

I would bet that the Government are losing more in lost tax than they gain in the higher stamp duty for Festival Licences.

This, and the others above seem to me like own goals that are holding the economy back when we desperately need to see it move forward both from the point of view of Ireland and Moville. They need to re-examine this again.