Deputy Peter Burke, Fine Gael TD for Longford Westmeath has rowed in behind Alan Kelly’s Bill which he says will give a particular boost to Longford. Deputy Kelly is putting forward a Private Members Bill, INTOXICATING LIQUOR (BREWERIES AND DISTILLERIES) BILL 2016 which will allow for breweries and distilleries to sell their product on site, which currently is not allowed under Irish licensing law. Speaking on the Bill, Burke stated that considering the current brewery in St. Mel’s and new the proposals for Lanesborough, this Bill could open up a niche market in the county:

“I have been in touch with Eoin Tynan from St. Mel’s Brewery and the Clancy family who have an exciting distillery planned for Lanesborough as I feel this initiative could maximise their business and tourist potential. As things stand, people can visit and tour breweries and distilleries, but cannot sample or buy the product. This is a complete waste in my eyes-can you imagine touring a French vineyard and not be given the opportunity to buy any of the produce at the end of the tour?

“I will be supporting this Bill and will be working hard to ensure that Fine Gael and the Government agree to back the legislation when it is introduced into the Dáil and Seanad. If the Bill is enacted, it gives a real chance for tourism in Longford to be given a boost and to open up a niche market to attract more people to the county. St. Mel’s produce an extremely high calibre of beers, and Longford would benefit if this quality could be available on site. Similarly, Lough Ree Distillery plan to build a large visitor centre and attract up to 20,000 visitors a year. This extra income has huge potential to breathe life into the local economy and community.

“In the 1860s, Ireland produced 60% of the world’s whiskey. We need to continue to progress indigenous industry, especially in rural Ireland, and small changes such as those proposed in this Bill can have a huge long-term impact. I plan to work with Alan, along with Eoin Tynan of St. Mel’s and Sheila, Peter and Mike Clancy to ensure Longford takes advantage of this opportunity.”