Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae will not force customers to wear masks or facing coverings in his shop as they become mandatory today.
r Healy-Rae said he will encourage people to wear them but said he will not become an “enforcer” and neither will his staff.
Speaking on Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast, he said: “We are not going to be saying to a person 'you've no mask on, you can't be in the shop.’”
“It won’t happen in my shop and the vast majority of shops in Ireland. People working in the shops have enough to be doing just to do their own roles,” he added.
Mr Healy-Rae runs a Mace supermarket and filling station in his hometown of Kilgarven.
In a wide-ranging interview Mr Healy-Rae also said:
- He would accept a local lockdown in Kerry because the “rules are the rule”.
- But public health experts don’t have a “monopoly on being right” when it comes to pubs.
- The new government has been an “unmitigated disaster”.
- The sacking of Barry Cowen as Agriculture Minister was “wrong”.
- Education Minister Norma Foley is a “formidable operator”.
- And landlords are being “demonised” by certain TDs.
Mr Healy-Rae said it is “remarkable” that pubs are still closed when around 100,000 people flew into Ireland from abroad last week. “That in itself was an anomaly and is something of great consternation to a lot of people,” he said.
The long serving deputy said the Government should introduce testing and quarantine for all travellers arriving here as they have in New Zealand where there has been no new coronavirus case in over 100 days.
Mr Healy-Rae said it is “counterproductive” to public health to keep pubs closed because people are not congregating in a smaller number of licenced premises. He also said the ban had led to emergence of shebeens in rural communities along with house parties and increased off-licence sales.
He said his brother Danny’s pub has remained closed throughout the pandemic as he does not serve food.
Mr Healy-Rae says “common sense” outweighs advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) guidance on the reopening of pubs. “No one has a monopoly on being right about everything at all times and I think they're wrong on this occasion,” he added.
He said the new coalition government has been an “unmitigated disaster” that has “lunged from crisis to crisis”. He said Taoiseach Micheal Martin is a very experienced TD and expected him to be “more sure footed” when he took office.
“The way I would describe the Government is that they are waking up everyone morning and what they are doing is they are literally wetting their finger and they are seeing which way the wind is blowing,” he added.
He said the sacking of Barry Cowen over his drink driving case was handled “badly and poorly” by the Taoiseach.
“I don't think it warranted him being forced out of the position that he had. I know an awful lot of people around the country certainly didn't agree with it,” he added.
Mr Healy-Rae said he was glad Kerry had a minister at the Cabinet table in Norma Foley and criticised those who describe he has an inexperienced TD.
He also warned TDs against criticising landlords because they will leave the market and there will be less tenancies for renters. He said there is no money in the rental business if you are starting now.