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This letter appeared in the Irish Independent on Monday 17th October, 2004 & it also appeared in The Irish Times on Tues 18th October, 2004.

Dear Sir / Madam

I am an advisor to the hospitality sector.

Ireland is famous for its hospitality and its welcome but pubs, one of our core assets, are being assaulted from every side. It begs the question as to what benefit this creates for anyone, particularly visitors and ultimately employment at home?

Yes, there are issues to address, better service, better standards, better value, more interesting and diverse offers, but responsibility and how the industry is depicted is a two way street.

Of course it is more exciting and sensational to film the drunk, collapsing teenager instead of the hundreds going home happily and normally.

Sure it’s easy to attack the 50 or so "Superpubs" but ignore the other 10,000.

Sure it’s more sensational to focus on main street Temple Bar rather than main street Templemore.

But! It’s not an accurate story, it’s not a fair story and it certainly does not represent my experience.

I have never yet met the "irresponsible" publican, hotelier or nightclub owner so often reported.

On the contrary, I have met hundreds of "responsible" operators.

What industry has had to deal with and adopt as much strict legislation in such a short period? No smoking, No kids after 9. Changing opening and closing hours not to even begin to think about the realities and challenges of fraudulent insurance claims. What industry contributes so much in tax but is a recurring and easy Government target to anti social behaviour? Ironic when politicians are quick to volunteer their services at new openings.

In the end it’s nothing to do with pubs and alcohol, it’s to do with how people drink and behave and how they are controlled. Driving a problem away does not solve it, it merely compounds it. The "easy" thing is repressive legislation, laws and attitudes but, if young people are constantly encouraged not to go to pubs they will drink at home and what controls exist there that are better than the pub? Hospitality professionals are at the cutting edge of reinventing their products and services faster than most.

Isn’t it time Governments and critics refreshed their thinking too?

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