Worries over the impact a ban on smoking in the Republic of Ireland will have for tourism and the hospitality business in border towns.
The smoking ban came into effect in Ireland on 29 March 2004 under the Public Health Act 2004. The new regulation prohibits smoking in the workplace and enclosed public spaces including hotels, bars and restaurants,
Publicans and hoteliers in the border counties are particularly worried about the impact of the ban because many of their customers may choose to cross into Northern Ireland where smoking is allowed. In Donegal, hotels say weddings have been cancelled and transferred north of the border. Some English tourists to the county say they will not be back if they cannot smoke.
Bundoran in County Donegal is largely dependent on tourism and the hospitality industry. Its proximity to the border means that about seventy per cent of its business comes from Northern Ireland. However, locals fear that this is all about to change.
Brian MacEniff of the Holyrood Hotel Bundoran anticipates a loss of business saying,
If you can smoke in a pub in Northern Ireland or at a disco or at a dinner dance or wedding, you're going to have your function in there and you're not going to come back into the Republic.
Lifford in County Donegal is another town predicting a loss of trade as a result of the ban. Strabane in Northern Ireland is just a short walk from Lifford across the border and this is worrying local publicans.
Paddy Tourish of Bannigan's Bar in Lifford says that some of his customers have stated they will stay at home when the smoking ban comes in and others are saying that they will cross the border. However, Mr Tourish predicts that this will be just an initial reaction to the ban.
The Holiday Inn in Letterkenny has already seen the effects of the smoking ban with wedding cancellations. Michael Naughton explains that he has already lost two weddings and says that because people have a choice to go across the border, that is what they will do.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 March 2004. The reporter is Eileen Magnier.
The smoking ban came into effect in Northern Ireland in 2004.