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Dublin pub owner says way hospitality sector has been treated during reopening is 'disgraceful'

David Chawke of the Bank bar in Dublin has voiced frustration over the confusion and uncertainty around reopening plans.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.53 20 Oct 2021


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Dublin pub owner says way hosp...

Dublin pub owner says way hospitality sector has been treated during reopening is 'disgraceful'

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.53 20 Oct 2021


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A Dublin pub owner says it's "not acceptable" to have such uncertainty and confusion around reopening plans for the hospitality sector.

David Chawke, owner of the Bank bar on College Green, says no other sector gets treated in the way his sector does - noting the "goalposts keep getting changed" when it comes to reopening pubs and nightclubs.

He was speaking amid the continued confusion around the exact details of the reopening this coming Friday.

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Different rules are also likely to apply for nightclubs compared to pubs and bars.

Arts Minister Catherine Martin has asked musicians and venues to "bear with us" for another 24 hours while guidelines are finalised.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said both the sector and customers have to 'buy into the spirit' of the current rules, such as around the checking of COVID certs.

He says he also believes there needs to be greater enforcement of those rules.

However, Mr Chawke told The Hard Shoulder you can't blame the sector for any uncertainty when it's not even clear who's responsible for enforcement.

Newstalk's own Sean Defoe did some digging this week to find out who is actually responsible for enforcing the certs.

He found responsibility lies with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), in consultation with the HSE.

Mr Chawke observed: “This is supposed to have been in place for the last few months - it wasn’t the HSE, the guards or Fáilte Ireland. Now we’re hearing it’s the HSA.

“Up until two or three years ago, the HSA was understaffed anyway. I don’t know how they’re putting in place this plan to visit venues across the country and do these checks.”

He said putting this on the HSA - who are usually responsible for health & safety inspections - is "doubling or quadrupling their job".

He said he himself has tried to chase up answers about what's happening, but the "goalposts keep getting changed".

'Blame game'

The publican suggested the sector is the "last to hear everything", and expressed frustration over the "blame game" that emerges when there's a spike in cases.

He said: “It’s beyond a joke. Every single time… it’s the same thing. If NPHET and the Government and HSE want to start a blame game or pointing fingers again… they can look a lot closer to home.

“We did what was asked of us... we did it all. But you can completely understand when people don’t know what’s going on - who's doing the check, what's happening.

"It's not just our sector, but it always comes back to 'here comes the publicans again.'

"We're the last [country] to react, and then we hear 'maybe if we buy into the spirit a bit more'. It's disgraceful behaviour."

Mr Chawke said there's no surprise there's a staff shortage in the hospitality sector, when there's such uncertainty around the situation facing publicans, nightclub owners and hospitality workers.

He said: "Nightclub staff members and owners are sitting around listening to this, 24-48 hours beforehand, [unsure] whether they're going to be able to go back to work.

"It's not acceptable - it doesn't happen in other industries."

Main image: The Bank Bar on College Green in Dublin. Photo: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

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