After the scenes on the streets of Dublin at the weekend caused grave concerns, Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned that there is a possibility the planned reopening of all pubs across Ireland in two weeks could be delayed.
Should something like that happen then Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae has made the case for separate rules which would allow rural pubs open anyhow given that they are less likely to attract that high numbers of visitors that could cause problems for social distancing.
"There is a great case to be made for such a difference. How can you compare some of the rural pubs where I would have my clinics ... How could compare the people who would be in there of a night to the people who would be in Temple Bar?" Healy-Rae told The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.
While footage at the weekend saw the likes of Dame Lane busy with people socialising, Healy-Rae does not want those scenes to impact smaller pub owners in rural Ireland:
“If you were a small publican in a rural location who is 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, hoping to have traders coming into your pub again. And maybe having three or four or five people in at night because you know that in many country pubs, that's all you would have in at night...
"They were looking forward to that and now they are afraid. They are genuinely afraid that because of what happened in Dublin and because there was so many people out on the streets and they were nearly up on top of each other’s backs, that we are going to pay a high price for that – and we don’t want that to happen.”
Oh hey Dublin! Cop the f on! Tonight at 9.30, just one of many jammers streets. pic.twitter.com/h4iWVshbqt
— Gaillot et Gray (@gg_pizza) July 4, 2020
At pains to not place the blame on business owners in the capital, he argued that the difference between them and country pubs is simply a numbers game: “It is just that the amount of people who would be going into those premises ... You obviously have such large amounts in the major centres of population."
He added "“I just don’t want that perception to go around the country so that publicans in places like County Kerry or west Cork or above in Clare, that they have to pay the price for what happened in Dublin."
With all that being said, Healy-Rae first and foremost wants all premises to be able to open as planned and placed the reponsibility at the doorstep of the public to adhere to the guidelines:
“We don’t want more people to get sick and all we all have to do is play our part and play our role. We can’t be blaming the businesses. It is up to ourselves as individuals to act responsibly. It is up to each one of us. You can’t be relying on the State or the Department of Health or anyone else to be doing everything for us.
“It is up to ourselves to police ourselves and act responsibly.”
Image: Damien Storan / Shutterstock.com