Alan Kelly says rural tourist spots should not be punished if pub openings are postponed

The Labour leader said that the rural hospitality industry which has suffered hugely from the summer shutdown, should not be punished for mistakes made in larger cities.
Alan Kelly says rural tourist spots should not be punished if pub openings are postponed
Alan Kelly said that the rural hospitality industry which has suffered hugely from the summer shutdown, should not be punished for mistakes made in larger cities. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Alan Kelly said that the rural hospitality industry which has suffered hugely from the summer shutdown, should not be punished for mistakes made in larger cities. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Alan Kelly says rural tourist spots should not be punished if pub openings are postponed.

The reopening of pubs on July 20 has been cast into doubt after scenes in Dublin's Dame Lane over the weekend panicked public health officials.

Hundreds of people could be seen drinking takeaway pints in the packed laneway with no social distancing being observed.

The Labour leader said that the rural hospitality industry which has suffered hugely from the summer shutdown, should not be punished for mistakes made in larger cities.

"I don't think they should be punished because of behaviour of a small amount of people," he said.

"So I think government may look at specific ways in which to deal with what we saw last weekend.

"As from somebody who has a vast knowledge and tourism industry, 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 of the behaviour of a small few.

I think something that could be tweaked in order to help, because I certainly believe that we can't see that sort of behaviour again.

Mr Kelly also argued that there should have been some consideration given to opening restaurants and bars on the same date, because there was a huge demand for a smaller amount of locations.

He also dismissed banning takeaway pints as he did not think it would be enforceable.

"Ultimately I don't believe that other parts of the country should be, in a way of discriminated against, if they are behaving in a certain way.

"I know publicans and restaurant owners in areas around the country they're very much dependent on tourism, very much dependent on this opening, to try and salvage some amount of the season."

Likewise, Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae has said that people in rural Ireland are genuinely afraid they will be made to pay for the social distancing breaches in pubs in Dublin.

There was a good case to be made for different rules for pubs in rural and urban parts of the country, he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.

“If you were a small publican in a rural location who was desperately looking forward to turning on the light, maybe lighting a little fire in the corner and dusting down the cobwebs and opening the doors.

"They were looking forward to that and now they are afraid."

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