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06th Jul 2020

Simon Harris asks people to use their common sense after crowds of drinkers filled the streets at the weekend

Anna Daly

Simon Harris

“We owe it to each other, to those families who have lost loved ones, to the local business we want to keep open & to our kids.”

After restrictions for restaurants and some pubs were lifted last Monday, there was a predictable jump in crowds of people drinking in Dublin city centre over the weekend.

Premises were given the the ability to sell alcohol for takeaway, which led to huge numbers of people buying alcohol and drinking it on the streets outside the pubs. Technically, people are obligated to consume the drinks over 100m from the pubs, but this is very hard for publicans to enforce without gardaí assistance.

In response to the increased number of crowds, Simon Harris tweeted a plea for everyone to use their “cop on and common sense” to make sure that we don’t lose all the progress that we have made over lockdown up to now.

Joe Barry, a former professor of Population Health Medicine speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, said that the crowds of people were predictable and did not allow for proper contact tracing. He observed that most young people do not really observe social distancing and that it was hard for pubs to enforce the Fáilte Ireland guidelines because of a weakness in the legislation.

Padraig Cribbens, the CEO of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, spoke on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney and said that a “small minority” of publicans are not following the required guidelines for reopening and that those publicans are in danger of losing their licences if that continues.

He also said that gardaí should help with keeping things in check and that they should “bring as much pressure as they can” to help publicans make sure that guidelines and social distancing is adhered to.

Mr Cribbens also said that, in hindsight, all pubs should have opened at the same time. Opening only half of pubs led to a “pent up demand” in a smaller number of locations that contributed to large crowds. He said that allowing alcoholic drinks to be taken out of the pubs is also a major factor leading to the huge crowds and said that it should be stopped immediately.

“This should be stopped right now. If this is not done in a controlled manner then this is aggravating the scenes we saw on Saturday night. When you have very big crowds it is very difficult for the gardaí to implement that but the easiest way to implement it is not to allow it in the first place.”

The Licensed Vinters’ Association said that the crowds on Dame Street at the weekend were “shocking and disgraceful” and should not be happening. They called on gardaí to investigate.