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Taoiseach says 'takeaway pints phenomenon' to be reviewed and could be stopped

Micheál Martin said the government will ‘look very seriously’ at stopping the practice.

A video of people drinking in Dublin city was shared widely over the weekend.
A video of people drinking in Dublin city was shared widely over the weekend.
Image: Twitter

CABINET WILL discuss a proposal on banning take away drinks from pubs tomorrow.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the government will be reviewing the selling of takeaway pints from pubs due to a number of instances of people congregating in defiance of public health guidelines.

Martin said he would be speaking with the Minister for Justice on the matter and will also be seeking advice from An Garda Síochána.

The Taoiseach’s comments comes as videos of people gathering on Dublin’s South William Street and Cork’s Patrick Street and Coal Quay were shared online and generated news coverage. 

Under Level 5 restrictions, pubs cannot open for customers but are allowed to operate on a takeaway basis.

Pubs and licensed premises are legally permitted to sell alcohol for takeaway or to be consumed off the premises, but the alcohol cannot be consumed within 100 metres.

Drinking outdoors is not prohibited in general but many city and county councils have bye-laws that forbid drinking in some or all public places.

Some publicans not offering takeaway alcohol have complained that regulations are not being observed and that it is encouraging large numbers of people to congregate.

Speaking this morning on the Neil Prendeville Show on Red FM, Martin said he is “extremely concerned and annoyed” about reports of people drinking on the streets.

“I think it flies in the face of what’s acceptable in terms of adherence to the guidelines under the regulations because we all have to work to try and get the incidence of the virus down,” he said.

The Taoiseach said that “widespread congregation facilitates the spreading of the virus” and that the government is going to “look very seriously” at stopping the selling of takeaway alcohol. 

“We’re going to have to review the whole takeaway pints and alcohol phenomenon  and we’re going to review it to see what we can do,” he said.

It would potentially mean a change of regulation so I’m going to consult with my government colleagues first before I make any announcement but we’re certainly going to review it. This was never meant to be, this was never the intention to have large crowds gathering outside of pubs or particular locations where takeaways were available.

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Martin said the promised review would happen over the coming days. However, it is understood that the Taoiseach will be speaking with the Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly today about the matter ahead of tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.

“I’m seeking reports from An Garda Síochána and I’ll be talking to the Minister for Justice today who’ll have a broader assessment from the gardaí in terms of what’s been happening across cities and towns across the country on this because it had been doing well,” he said.

Brian Foley, of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said some people who are drinking outdoors are getting alcohol from off licences, rather than pubs. He told TheJournal.ie any pubs that break guidelines should be “dealt with”, but added that “the vast majority of publicans are following the guidelines“.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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Rónán Duffy

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