Pubs should reopen 'immediately' after new Garda powers in force


Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.13 3 Sep 2020


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Publicans say the pubs should reopen the minute new Garda powers come into force.

Legislation that will allow Gardaí to close pubs on the spot for breaching COVID-19 restrictions was debated in the Dáil last night.

The Justice Minister Helen McEntee said it "paves the way" for the reopening of pubs that do not serve food.

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However, opposition TDs reacted angrily to the plan, warning that the "draconian" proposals represent a “massive overreach by the Government”.

The CEO of the Licensed Vintners' Association Donal O’Keefe believes that publicans cannot wait much longer.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr O'Keefe said "the mood music" on the reopening of pubs has become a little more positive.

However, he said things need to happen far more quickly after the pubs were closed for six months.

He said: "We do have a concern that possibly there will be a decision announced in the next roadmap in the middle of September for an October reopening.

"That's just to slow for us given where we are.

"So we think it should happen immediately after the Garda powers are available.

Mr O'Keefe said he was in support of Gardaí having the powers to close pubs that are in "flagrant breach" of guidelines.

He added: "Clearly it's a very draconian move to have the premises closed so the offence committed must be pretty serious."

Government needs to trust people

Speaking on the same programme, the Chair of the Oireachtas COVID-19 Response Committee said it may be time to reopen pubs.

Deputy Michael McNamara believes the Government needs to trust people.

He said he didn't see a huge amount of evidence that people are more likely to contract COVID-19 in pubs.

He added: "There was one cluster in Aberdeen associated with pubs yet they remain open in Aberdeen today.

"If there is evidence that pubs are more dangerous places to go then surely people can make an informed choice on whether they want to go there.

"I have never seen any publican come and drag people in off the street."

Main image: File photo. Credit: Christian Birkholz from Pixabay 

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