Publicans need clarity on Christmas opening, Taoiseach is told

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PUBLICANS need certainty on whether or not they will be allowed to open before Christmas, a private meeting of Fianna Fáil was told.

everal TDs and Senators raised the plight of the hospitality industry with Taoiseach Micheál Martin who told his party that decisions on the future of Covid-19 restrictions will be taken next week.

He also said there will be a Dáil debate on Tuesday on how the country can exit from Level 5 lockdown.

Senator Lisa Chambers said publicans need clarity about the Covid-19 restrictions and how they will affect them into the festive season.

She is said to have expressed doubts that they will be open for Christmas but said, regardless of this, publicans need certainty because they are coming under pressure from suppliers to place orders now.

Senator Shane Cassells is also said to have called for certainty for publicans while other contributors who spoke of the difficulties facing the hospitality sector included Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan and Clare’s Cathal Crowe.

Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry told the meeting he hopes the hospitality industry will be allowed to reopen and businesses require adequate notice to do so.

He criticised the communications surrounding plans to crack-down on on-street drinking which resulted in initial proposals to ban takeaway sales.

This was branded as a “knee jerk” reaction and he suggested that Fianna Fáil’s TDs and Senators should have been consulted when plans – which were later abandoned – were being developed.

Senator Eugene Murphy said there should be some reopening of churches for Sunday Mass amid the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Martin said the hope for Christmas is that it is “meaningful, enjoyable and safe”.

He said Ireland is in a better position than most countries. There will be an element of trusting the public but people have to be “careful and sensible”.

Separately, Fianna Fáil continued its post-mortem of its disastrous election campaign.

Mr Martin’s party was widely expected to pick up seats ahead of polling day in February but ended up returning just 38 TDs.

Junior Minister Seán Fleming has been tasked with reviewing the campaign and he delivered an update on his work this evening.

Sources said senior TD Barry Cowen outlined how the party’s poll ratings were good heading into the race but dropped off on the lead up to election day showing the party “campaigned poorly”. The Laois Offaly TD called for detailed scrutiny of the national campaign.

Dublin South-West’s John Lahart raised concern over how the issue of the pension age was handled during the campaign and argued that there were gaps in the manifesto.

Senator Murphy – who lost his Dáil seat in the election – said defeated TDs should be offered space to contribute their views.

Meanwhile, Mr MacSharry told his party that Justice Minister Helen McEntee should answer Dáil questions on the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court.

The Government has been resisting Opposition calls for Ms McEntee to make a statement on the matter.

But Mr McSharry broke ranks at the meeting to say Ms McEntee should address the Dáil.

Sources said he praised the Taoiseach for how the separate controversy over Mr Woulfe’s attendance at the ‘Golfgate’ dinner was handled.

Mr Martin announced on Tuesday that the Government would not be taking action in relation to that issue.

Mr MacSharry is understood to have said it was the right thing to do as it should be a matter for the judiciary to resolve.

But he said Ms McEntee should be told to answer TDs’ questions on Mr Woulfe’s appointment so there is clarity on the process.

He argued that not doing this would give rise to suspicion over the appointment and she should go into the Dáil and “lay it all out”.

Three serving judges had expressed an interest in the vacancy.

The Taoiseach and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said they were not told three other judges applied for the Supreme Court job.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is refusing to say if he knew about the applications.

The Government has insisted that proper procedures were followed in the appointment.

Mr Martin told the Dáil today that the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) deemed that former Attorney General and Fine Gael-supporting barrister Mr Woulfe was a suitable candidate and he was satisfied with this.

Online Editors

Source: Irish News