Vintners say 'lenient' sentencing is to blame for rise in pub attacks
Lenient sentencing is to blame for an increase in attacks on publicans, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has said.
VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben hit out at the sentences imposed on those who attack publicans, warning that a bar owner will be killed if the current trend is not addressed.
He said attacks on publicans are escalating because those behind them have no fear of custodial sentences. Mr Cribben called for sterner deterrents.
The VFI receives calls on a weekly basis about assaults. Publicans are being left with serious injuries and premises are being "destroyed" on a regular basis, said Mr Cribben.
He estimated that such att-acks had increased by 40pc to 50pc in recent years, with publicans sustaining serious facial injuries and cracked ribs.
"Those are the measurable injuries. What is immeasurable is the mental trauma the victims are experiencing," said Mr Cribben. "There has been a significant increase in these attacks.
"I have heard of dozens of cases in the last 24 months. Many don't come to public attention, but people are being left badly injured."
Mr Cribben said a significant number of pubs were being destroyed, with the average cost of the damage running from €20,000 to €30,000.
"In some cases it's actually hitting six figures," he added.
Mr Cribben said the VFI is seriously concerned about the lack of proper deterrents, insisting that he has seen no such incidents result in a custodial sentence.
"The gardai are doing their job and bringing the cases to court, but the constant trend we see is these people being let off with lenient sentences," he said.
"A lot of these people are repeat offenders, but they are attacking with impunity because they know they won't face a custodial sentence."
Mr Cribben said judges needed to take a harder stance in assault cases.
"Without stronger sentencing imposed, these acts of violence are likely to continue," he said.
"If some people believe they can act with relative impunity, they will. That is the message they are currently receiving."
Mr Cribben warned that if the assaults continued, they could result in a fatality.
"Somebody very shortly is going to be killed. We are looking at that scenario. Things are that bad," he said.