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Publicans take their concern to the street

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Protesting publicans delivering a letter to Minister James Browne outside his office in Enniscorthy yesterday (Monday) morning

Protesting publicans delivering a letter to Minister James Browne outside his office in Enniscorthy yesterday (Monday) morning

Protesting publicans delivering a letter to Minister James Browne outside his office in Enniscorthy yesterday (Monday) morning

Publicans from across the county gathered in Enniscorthy yesterday to stage a protest outside the offices of TDs, Minister James Browne and Paul Kehoe.

They were protesting over how they've been treated during the pandemic and what they say is the lack of respect shown to them since the country went into lockdown.

Around 24 publicans arrived in the town yesterday morning and when this newspaper met with them outside of Deputy Paul Kehoe's office, they pointed out that numbers would have been much higher but for the restrictions around social distancing and public health.

Tom Dunbar, from Ferns, was the spokesperson for the group and he highlighted the feelings of publicans across the county, some of whom are in danger of not being able to open their doors again if the forced closure continues for much longer.

'We just don't know when we are going to be opening,' said Mr Dunbar.

'We need to find out because we're continuously being left in limbo,' he added.

Many publicans have had to return stock and some are facing uncertainty over whether or not they will be opening up again.

Mr Dunbar said that while a figure specific to Wexford is hard to ascertain from a national perspective, it's estimated that around 10 per cent of pubs won't open up again.

Around 12 publicans picketed outside of both the Government members' offices and Mr Dunbar pointed out the numbers could have been much higher.

'We could have had triple the amount of people here but we have to adhere to guidelines,' said Mr Dunbar.

'It's just not good enough how we've been treated,' he added.

'We want to open and we can do so within regulations and if someone doesn't adhere to regulations then they can shut them down but with the vast majority of pubs there won't be a problem.'

Mr Dunbar went on to comment that people are questioning whether or not staying in business is worth it.

'A lot of people feel you would be better off doing something else at this stage,' he said.

'We were the first to close and we got no thanks for it,' he added.

He also said that emotions are reaching a tipping point: 'We don't want to take a protest to the streets but that is what we will do if we need to.'

'We've been disappointed on three occasions and if we don't open this time it will be a fourth time,' he said.

Gorey Guardian