RURAL publicans are "extremely angry" at the government's "crazy decision" to delay the widespread reopening of pubs.
The remarks were made by Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae as he quizzed Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on the issue.
The government last night said that pubs that don't sell food will have to wait until August 10 to reopen due to an increase in coronavirus cases.
Pubs had expected to reopen from Monday.
A series of rural TDs raised the issue in the Dáil this afternoon.
Tipperary's Mattie McGrath said publicans, their families and customers had been "let down" and he asked "why weren't they told sooner?"
Michael Collins from Cork South-West said it was a "disastrous decision" for rural pubs to be placed in the same reopening phase as night clubs adding that they're "totally different businesses".
Danny Healy-Rae said: "Tis fairly foolish to think that the virus can know whether you're eating with your pint or not."
Michael Healy-Rae said pubs are being treated "very unfairly" as they had restocked ahead of Monday, had work rosters organised and now "you pulled the rug out from underneath them".
He said rural pubs are unique and cater for very small groups of people. A number of TDs said some pubs may see as few as four or five customers a night.
Mr Healy-Rae said there's "an awful difference between Dame Lane and Ballinskelligs" - a reference to the much-criticised crowding that occurred outside some pubs in Dublin's Dame Lane on a recent weekend.
He suggested there wouldn't be an increase in coronavirus cases if pubs where reopened.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he can understand what a "hammer blow" the news was for publicans adding: "I don’t think I'm the only person in this House who was looking forward to freedom pints next week.
"Unfortunately that isn't possible and it isn't possible for a good reason... the incidents of the virus in Ireland has increased."
He said it's still very low but the trajectory was a "matter of concern" and it was "going in the wrong direction".
Mr Varadkar said this was not due to international travel, it was 90pc due to behaviour like people in close contact in confined spaces such as house parties.
Mr Healy-Rae insisted that pub owners are responsible business people whose hopes had been raised that they would be able to reopen.
He added that there was a feeling they're: "being blamed and getting the brunt of the anger the government had when they saw what went on in Dame Lane.
Mr Varadkar said: "I have no doubt the vast majority of publicans are responsible people."
He also said that there had been warnings from "day one" that the roadmap for reopening Ireland could be accelerated, paused or reversed if needs be. He said publicans are being helped in other ways like the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and breaks in the payment of commercial rates.
Danny Healy-Rae said Mr Varadkar is the "Tánaiste for all of the country not just Dublin." He said that if public health officials don't understand rural publicans "you should".
He claimed there has been a "blackguarding" of rural publicans who have been discriminated against.
Mr Varadkar said: "I know the difference between a rural pub and a night club... I used to have a very good social life."
He said he had been in Danny Healy-Rae's family's pub and had "a very nice evening".
Mr Varadkar said the goal will be to try and get the pubs open in three weeks. He said there may be guidelines like limiting the number of people in premises but more importantly it depends on the public's behaviour and getting the virus back under control.
He said: "We are not saying they will open on the 10th of August. We are saying they will open no sooner than the 10th of August. And it will depend on the numbers and on how the virus behaves between now and then."
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty asked if pubs that don't sell food could reopen if they implemented strict social distancing rules, table service and time limits like restaurants.
Mr Varadkar said he understood the point Mr Doherty was making and that it "could potentially work".
But he also cautioned: "The problem that we have seen though with alcohol is that when people consume alcohol - we see this on a number of occasions whether it's in house parties, whether it's on the streets, even when it's in restaurants - it is very hard to maintain social distancing.
"That is one thing that’s fundamental to pubs. Pubs are ultimately about serving alcohol," he said.