OPINION: What is being done in relation to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions is very unfair and it is dividing the people, says Independent Kerry TD, Danny Healy-Rae
MORE than anyone else, I look forward to every door being opened in the hospitality sector. Whether the businesses are pubs or small restaurants, they have been closed for far too long.
The longer they remain closed, the greater the risk that many of them will never open again. That is a fact.
Attitudes are changing and, possibly, people are resigned to buying alcohol and having a few drinks at home because there is no problem with meeting the Garda on the road, or whatever, if they do so. People are doing things differently now. I worry that things will never again be the same for many businesses.
I have made calls, day after day, that pubs and small restaurants be allowed to open in the very same way as hotels and businesses in other sectors. Nearly every other sector is open.
When we look across the border, businesses are all open up there. I know of stags, hens and all kinds of parties, travelling up to the north. There is no problem about it and people are drinking inside. Over the past five years, we had no problem getting beds for people going to the north to get their eyes, hips or whatever done but now we have a serious problem.
This is happening to such an extent that when we looked for beds for people we were taking up on the next bus, there was not a bed to be had. In the whole of the north of Ireland, all the beds are full because they are booked up by people from the south. That is the truth of it.
The government is bringing in its legislation in a final attempt to put restrictions in place, because it knows pubs will have to open. What is being done is very unfair and it is dividing the people.
Where is data protection? If we ring up about someone’s medical card or something, there is such a rigmarole about data protection. Now, however, there is not a bother in the world. One person is supposed to ask a customer coming in ‘Have you been vaccinated? Show me your vaccination pass’. This is totally and absolutely ridiculous.
So many people have called me, emailed me and written to me asking me not to support this legislation the government is bringing in because it is creating a divide. I know of women with blood clotting problems. She has a problem because she takes blood thinners and her doctor has advised her not to get vaccinated. Is she to be kept outside while her husband, son and daughter go into the local pub? Is that what the government will do to her? I cannot do that.
Several other people who got the first vaccine had a reaction to it. They finished up in Cork University Hospital where they had to stay for several nights. They are not taking the second vaccine and will not be able to get this pass.
I know of one man, who is more entitled than anyone else to have a couple of pints because he works very hard, for whom it will mean being left outside. Who will police this? It is not policeable. There are many other things the Gardaí need to do. Gardaí are up to their necks already, so what more resources are being given to An Garda Síochána to do this?
The government had no plan. It opened nearly everywhere else on June 1st but it did not come up with a plan until the week before July 5th when it stated that the reopening was going to be delayed again.
When so much displeasure was expressed about it, the government said it wanted a plan from the vintners. It met the vintners, in other words, after the fair. Some of the vintners’ organisations say they will go with the proposal but they have not contacted their rank and file.
Young people are being forced to look for the vaccine. Chemists and pharmacists are inundated with young people, aged between 18 and 30, looking for the vaccine so they are legally allowed inside a public house or restaurant. This plan is totally unfair. It is creating a divide.
What the government is trying to do to the people, especially in rural Ireland, is totally unfair.