Northern Ireland

Bob McCoubrey: Restaurant owner says VAT rate threatens some NI businesses

A leading Belfast restaurant owner has said the current 20% VAT rate in Northern Ireland is threatening the future of some businesses in the sector.

Bob McCoubrey, the owner of the Mourne Seafood Bar, said restaurants in the Republic of Ireland were at a greater advantage.

The VAT rate for hospitality there is currently 9%.

Mr McCoubrey said action was needed to help the sector in Northern Ireland.

"The way taxation has gone in restaurants, the smaller operators like ourselves are eventually going to be squeezed out and we are going to get the large chains coming in," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Business programme.

"That is going to squeeze out the smaller artisan producers in Northern Ireland.

"In Dublin it is more focused on business, tourism is export in the Republic of Ireland. Here, tourism is some kind of Cinderella industry, it is always fluffy. I think we need to get that focus or we will be in trouble."

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