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Campaign of abuse against restaurants following the rules is 'reprehensible', says Taoiseach

Hospitality businesses following vaccine cert rules have been the victim of an online campaign.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said it is “reprehensible” that people would co-ordinate online campaigns of abuse against businesses that are following rules on indoor hospitality

The Journal reported this morning that some pubs and restaurants have been the subject of coordinated online abuse and fake reviews by those opposing the use of Covid-19 vaccine certs to attend indoor dining.

A Facebook page with hundreds of members which opposes the use of vaccine certificates has seen users post the names of businesses that have reopened indoor dining and resulted in hundreds of comments being left on businesses’ Facebook posts announcing their reopening.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland has written a letter to the government about the issue, as well as to Facebook and Google. It is to contact the Garda Commissioner over ‘fraudulent’ posts that it said is causing its members’ businesses to suffer.

One-star reviews are also being left on Google reviews for businesses that have reopened indoor dining. 

Asked by The Journal to respond to the RAI’s letter to government, An Taoiseach said that online campaigns such as the one described were “reprehensible”.

“The hospitality sector has been through a terrible time because of Covid-19. Covid-19 has just completely undermined and disrupted, hospitality, travel, tourism, the live arts, culture, music and so forth because unfortunately the virus is very compatible with behaviours that encourage congregation,” he said.

So I think we need to give them every chance to make a comeback. Government has supported pubs and restaurants as best we can but they really want to be back in business, serving people safely. And I think it’s anything that undermines that is reprehensible.

On 12 July, the government approved the reopening of indoor dining to those who are fully vaccinated, based on the National Public Health Emergency Team’s advice issued in response to the surge of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Since Monday, the new law has been in force, allowing some pubs to open for the first time since the pandemic began. Those who are not vaccinated can still dine outdoors.

- With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha

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Rónán Duffy

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