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Taoiseach: 'There's nothing I would like better right now than a pint in a rural pub in the west of Ireland'

Rural TDs criticised the Taoiseach for keeping ‘wet’ pubs closed.

Image: Shutterstock/IsabellaO

THE TAOISEACH TOLD the Dáil today that he is not “anti-rural” or “anti-pub”.

A number of rural TDs criticised the Taoiseach over the government’s decision to keep ‘wet’ pubs closed throughout December. 

Pubs that serve food are permitted to open, along with restaurants, from this Friday 4 December.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae accused the Taoiseach of hurting “many thousands of rural publicans, customers and people” by keeping the pubs that don’t serve food closed.

“What the Taoiseach has done, no other Fianna Fáil leader or Taoiseach in the past would have done to rural Ireland. What the Taoiseach has done is anti-village and anti-rural. Publicans and customers will have no Christmas,” said Healy Rae. 

The Taoiseach responded to the criticism, saying: 

“I am not anti-rural, anti-village or anti-pub. There is nothing I would like better right now than a pint in some rural pub in an idyllic village in the west of Ireland – I can assure the Deputies of that.”

The Kerry TD asked the Taoiseach where the evidence and scientific proof is that pubs in rural Ireland were the cause or would be the cause of transmitting the virus. 

Cork Independent TD Michael Collins accused the Taoiseach of “protecting the pubs in Dublin”. 

Pubs in rural Ireland are “lying in ruin thanks to the Taoiseach”, he said.

Collins added: “The banks are down on their backs. Their mortgages have to be paid. They are earning not one crust and the Government is standing idly by.”

“The Taoiseach has led to their destruction and in every town and village in rural Ireland it will never be forgotten what the Taoiseach has done to these pubs. I can assure the Taoiseach that if he thinks it will be forgotten, he is a very foolish man at this hour in his life.”

Limerick Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue said that where he is living in Granagh, there is no pub open now within a 15-mile radius.

“Granagh is closed, Ballingarry is closed and Croom is closed. Feenagh is closed. Ballyagran and Croagh are closed,” he said. 

“We have small rural pubs where our people go to have a sociable drink. They are small monitored crowds.

“The Taoiseach should stop nailing the lid on the coffin of rural Ireland,” said O’Donoghue.

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Micheál Martin said the ultimate objective of Government is to protect human lives and to protect those most vulnerable in our society.

“We have to make judgment calls. We have to make calls based on evidence. We have published the evidence. The evidence is available and we can look at it from August into September and right into October. Unfortunately, it is from the time when pubs were open. It is no fault on the publicans,” said the Taoiseach.

“The bottom line is that we could have taken a decision to open the pubs, but we would have done it clearly in the knowledge that we would have been contributing to an exponential rise in numbers fairly quickly. That is the issue, basically.

“Unfortunately, that is the issue. It is a genuine desire to try to save lives. People should not try to play politics to the degree that people are playing politics with it,” said Martin.

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