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Varadkar tells FG members Ireland is an outlier in terms of Covid rules on pubs and international travel

Varadkar said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ireland loses the Trade Commissioner role.

Varadkar said he would not be surprised if Ireland loses the Trade Commissinor role.
Varadkar said he would not be surprised if Ireland loses the Trade Commissinor role.
Image: Sam Boal

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has told his parliamentary party meeting that the next two weeks will be “critical” in terms of deciding what Ireland’s Covid-19 strategy will be for the final few months of 2020.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed today that the government’s new roadmap on reopening the rest of Irish society will be ready in mid-September.

The Fine Gael leader told his members tonight that there needs to be a change in how matters are being handled, pointing out to his party colleagues that pubs and theatres are fully open elsewhere in Europe.

Varadkar said international travel is another issue the government needs to deal with, telling his party that other EU countries are much less restricted when it comes to travel, and they are following the same trend as Ireland in terms of case numbers. 

Government sources have said the full scope of the roadmap is still being determined but consideration regarding travel is happening at the moment.

The Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. However, travel to a very limited set of locations that are on the Government’s Green List is exempted from this advice.

Varadkar also said that he doesn’t know why Ireland should be the only country with pubs not open. He said publicans should be given a chance to show they can open safely.

His comments come as the Dáil debates legislation that will give gardaí powers to close down and sanction pubs that break Covid guidelines. 

The issue of Phil Hogan’s resignation was also raised at the meeting.

Varadkar told his party members that the three party leaders were aware of the inaccuracies in Phil Hogan’s first Golfgate statements, prior to media reports. It is understood that this is due to the  input from the Garda Commissioner on the matter of Hogan being stopped by gardaí in Kildare for using a phone while driving. 

Varadkar said that if Hogan had remained in his position, the debate over his movements in Ireland would still be ongoing now.

While there is no white smoke in relation to who might replace Hogan, Varadkar said 
he wouldn’t be surprised if Ireland loses the Trade Commissioner role, which puts doubt on whether Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney will put his name forward for the job now.

Varadkar said he believes the Irish government should submit two names to the European President.

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Fine Gael TDs also raised the issue of restrictions on spectator numbers at GAA matches. 

TDs said parents had been in touch about not being able to attend GAA matches due to the restrictions, with politicians calling for them to be changed.

Speaking in the Dáil earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin also said he was unhappy with the rules.

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