From top: James McManus and Shane Dunne; Inside Business podcast
How are small businesses linked to tourism and entertainment coping with the coronavirus?
Shane Dunne, founder of Cork’s ‘Indiependence’ festival, and James McManus, CEO of Earth’s Edge adventure holidays, spoke yesterday with Cliff Taylor of The Irish Times‘ ‘Inside Business’ podcast.
“The government are great at using the craic and the ceol for soft diplomacy, you know, we’ve a seat on the UN Security Council that came from a U2 gig. They go to [Washington] DC every Paddy’s Day with the bowl of shamrock, you know, and talk about the music from Ireland.
Well the next time they go, it probably won’t be next year, probably 2022, but, you know, they can hang their head in shame because, at this point, they’re completely ignoring it.
There’s a lot of money in that stimulus package, it’s seven of eight billion but it appears again that we have a Government who have just scatter-gunned it all over the place without really putting any thought into it.
And they’ve left two industries, aviation and tourism are are part of those where they’ve just kind of gone ‘well, screw you’, you know, ‘we’ll let you fall‘.
Michael McNamara, the TD from Clare who is the chair of that [Special Covid-19] Oireachtas committee, you know, had a very good one line.
I think he said ‘In the time of clerics, the arts survived but in the time of medics, it’s going to be let go to the wall’.
[Michael McNamara’s exact quote: “I am perplexed by the fact that it is acceptable to have 150 people in an aircraft for three hours yet 150 people in the Abbey Theatre is a threat to life. That is nonsense. During the reign of clerics, the arts were supported but it seems during the reign of medics, they are left to go to the wall.”]
What do we have if we can’t go an climb a mountain with James or if we can’t go to a gig or go to the theatre, you know.
What life will be left for people when this is over if all of these businesses, you know, do fail.”
The issue for James McManus and Earth’s Edge is that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is being halved from €410 per week to €203 per week on August 31.
He said he’d be happy to get a loan but it wouldn’t be sensible given he’s no money coming in.
James told ‘Inside Business’:
“I just know with this scheme if you’ve kept staff on, your costs are going to double so, we really need some help.
As a country we have to decide whether we’re going to completely abandon these industries or we’re going to help them out.
“But from the first of September, we’re getting our funding cut in half. And we’re already losing money, we’ve already dropped staff so it’s a real problem.
I can’t see how it makes financial sense to not continue to support it. The long-term pain is going to be greater if we shut all these small businesses down.
And what I don’t understand is if we can, as a country, if can borrow this so-called free money, at such low interest rates…you’ve a country like France, they’re extending their wage subsidy scheme for another two years, Germany are out until 2021, the UK’s is running longer than ours.
And this is in, we’re talking about three weeks’ time when this is ending and it’s just on a knife edge for us so we really need the support and we need it right now.”