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Alan Kelly: 'Rural pubs shouldn't be punished due to behaviour of a small number of people'


Labour Party leader Alan Kelly (Niall Carson/PA)

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly (Niall Carson/PA)

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly (Niall Carson/PA)

Pubs in rural Ireland and tourist destinations shouldn't be punished and prevented from reopening due to the behaviour of a small number of people, Labour leader Alan Kelly has said.

The wider reopening of pubs from coronavirus restrictions on July 20 is at risk over concerns about social distancing outside bars.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government was unhappy about incidents at some locations over the weekend and warned plans for the next phase of reopening remain “under review”.

Pubs that sell food were allowed to reopen last week but the remainder of licensed premises can’t reopen until phase four of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ due to begin on July 20.

Major concern has been sparked by videos that emerged on social media over the weekend showing hundreds of young people congregating to drink on Dame Lane in Dublin city centre.

Mr Kelly was asked if the wider reopening of pubs should take place on July 20 given the scenes at the weekend.

He said there are communities and tourist areas that are "very much dependent on public housing opening on July 20."

He pointed to the Wild Atlantic Way and Hidden Heartlands tourist areas and how there have been campaigns to encourage people to holiday at home in Ireland.

"I think would be wrong for those areas to, to be treated like that with a further closure because of the behaviour of a small number of people."

Mr Kelly suggested that the government may look at ways to deal with the kinds of incidents seen at the weekend and that it's "more an enforcement issue rather than changing the July 20 date."

He said: "I don't think it would be correct to punish those who are trying to make a living and people who are trying to get back into employment in tourist areas all over the country because the behaviour of a small few."

Some of the crowding has been blamed on pubs selling take-away pints.

Mr Kelly said he didn't think a ban on this practice would be enforceable as people could just go to an off licence.

Online Editors