Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has called for curbs on the sale of alcohol and for people to “drown the shamrock” with water on St Patrick’s Day.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, the Minister also said that any licence holder who would sell “pints and cocktails” during protests “would want to have their head examined.”
“Any self-respecting licence holder that is going to stand inside a table tomorrow and hand out pints would want their head examined. You don't need a licence to have a bit of cop on.”
Mr O’Donovan warned that when it came for licences to be renewed Gardaí could object and “tell the judge this fella sold pints and cocktails in the middle of a protest”.
St Patrick’s Day was a day for the garden, to work outside the house, to “steer away from alcohol. It’s not a day to see the virus creep into houses and take off,” he warned.
Mr O’Donovan said he was just trying to impress on people “we can see the finishing line up ahead.
People could go for a walk with one other household, not have a picnic, they should not be meeting up “to have a puck around in the park where it’s going to turn into a social event. Not kids playing around while parents sit on bench having a latté.”
There was a “need to try to keep a lid on it. I'm very critical of the way we didn't deal with it, it was a massive failure - we didn't deal with the sale of alcohol before Christmas, we paid a very dear price for it.
"I was criticised, I was lampooned by some of my own political colleagues as something that wouldn't work and we paid a very dear price for it.
Last October, Mr O'Donovan said the opening hours of off-licences and the purchase amounts should be examined. He warned that alcohol consumption was "a large part" of the problem with the transmission of Covid.
The minister said people were leaving shops with trolleys full of alcohol and throwing house parties.
“I think 12 months on from the pubs being closed we saw what happened with the uncontrolled sale of alcohol - pictures from Limerick two weeks ago, that's not the only place we saw, funerals all over the place just let go totally unregulated - we saw people that died as a result of attendance at funerals.
"In counties up and down the country there have been some scandalous scenes. I hope that I'm not on your show next week saying look at what happened on St Patrick's Day.
“It's a minority that's doing this.
“More and more people are getting the message that clowning around has done an awful lot of damage, unfortunately what we saw in the run up to Christmas - it was the gatherings around funerals that did a huge amount of damage, then we had the sheebeens - guards had to go out, endangering themselves and their families, to deal with these yahoos.
"It's unbelievable what some people have done to the rest of the community over the last 12 months in the name of enjoying themselves.”