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.”