‘Ordinary punters’ left to eat and drink outside

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Ordinary punters must eat and drink outside in inclement weather

PEOPLE from all around rural Kerry will travel to hotels in Kenmare and Killarney just to get in from the rain to have a pint if the government insists that hotel and outdoor dining only is to be allowed in the coming weeks, a Kerry TD has claimed.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae insisted that he is not upset that hotels are able to have their customers inside but he said he is upset for “the ordinary punters” who are told they must eat and drink outside in inclement weather.

He cautioned against allowing a situation to develop where people will converge on hotels in places like Killarney and Kenmare because they can eat and drink indoors.

“Spreading the crowd around like this is not on at all. The minister must trust the people and advise them. Holding on to the restrictions until next November, or maybe even February, is not good enough,” he said.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Deputy Healy-Rae made his comments during a debate on the Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) Bill 2021 and he argued that when the legislation was first there was a need for exceptional emergency powers but they are not required now.

“We have vaccines and the vaccine roll-out is going well. It was going so well in Killarney that it has been paused for three days until Friday,” he said.

Voting against the extension of the emergency powers, sought by Heal;th Minister Stephen Donnelly, the Kerry TD said it is very unfair that pubs and restaurants will not know the details of the restrictions until the very last minute.

“The minister said he will tell us on Friday but I am afraid he will not even do it then, although he knows the details,” he said.

“It is wrong to assume that publicans can bring in beer and restaurants can bring in food at very short notice. It is not like that. They must get staff, prepare and buy stock. The minister must give them a proper chance,” he remarked.