Time now to allow the Churches and bars to re-open, says Longford TD Joe Flaherty

Flaherty leads rural backlash at Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting

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Longford/Westmeath Fianna Fáil general election candidate Joe Flaherty

Longford/Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty

At the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting, Joe Flaherty TD made an impassioned appeal to allow pubs and Churches re-open next week. Advising against a distinction between outlets serving food or do, he said opening time could be restricted to 10pm and each bar given an occupancy limit.

He said: “Pubs need to open. Publicans have been treated badly  and in Longford we have seen six bars close and if they face into a further period of closure we can surely expect further closures. The pubs were closed for the past five weeks and the people drank on the streets and in houses oblivious to anything this government said. That wont change and if we want to police alcohol consumption then hand it over to the experts – the publicans.”

The Longford TD then went on to argue for the opening of Chuches from next week and referenced a protest taking place outside St Mel’s Cathedral whilst the parliamentary party meeting was underway. He said: “ We opened our Churches briefly during the summer and I am going to give the example of the small close knit Dromard  parish  in North Longford  where they have two churches  and local PP Fr Pat Lennon was able to call on a team of forty  dedicated volunteers to police that opening and ensure that public health guidelines were fully complied with.”

 The Longford TD added: “We’ve given the health service months to prepare and we cannot continue cowering behind the garden wall. It’s time to start turning the lights back on.”

He acknowledged the effforts of the Taoiseach and Minister for Health, who  have led the second most successful campaign  against  Covid in Europe and yet neither is  getting the credit for these efforts.

Added Deputy Flaherty: “How we move to the next stage next week will  inform the public narrative on  how we dealt with this crisis.  We won’t be thanked for leaving the pubs and churches closed. Publicans are geared up for re-opening, they are aware of the challenges and will welcome the opportunity.”

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