Responding to garda warnings that alcohol licenses may not cover on-street service, Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has slammed the government for incompetency, in failing to determine the legal requirements of on-street drinking and dining services prior to pushing and funding outdoor drinking and dining as a panacea for struggling pubs and restaurants.

Deputy Tóibín told Meath Live, “It really beggars belief the level to which the government has mismanaged the hospitality industry.

“Firstly, Leo Varadkar has admitted that there is no science behind the arbitrary distinction between food and drink eaten inside a pub/restaurant, and food eaten inside a hotel.

“That the whole hospitality sector is not operating under the same science and regulations is incredible.

“Secondly, Ireland is a significant outlier in being one of the few countries in Europe that stills bans indoor dining and drinking.

“It’s incredible that the Restaurant Association of Ireland has had to lodge papers in the High Court to challenge this.

“While indoor drinking and dining is prohibited, then the government wonders why crowds gather in the streets. This has led to a large number of significant violent disturbances on our streets.

“The solution of one FF councillor was to develop designated drinking areas as opposed to reopening existing designated drinking areas known as pubs.

“Now we find that the government failed to determine whether alcohol licenses extended to on-street services – only for the gardaí to raise concerns a couple of weeks into outdoor drinking and dining over the legality of the practice.

“What hope do the pubs and restaurants have of recovery when they can’t even rely on the government to determine the legality of a practice prior to pumping millions into outdoor dining?

“Thousands of small business are on their knees many in a zombie state, in danger of folding when the government supports stop.

“Now we are left in this grey area whereby ‘garda discretion’ will determine whether pubs and restaurants can operate or not.

“The sector cannot take any more.

“Pubs and restaurants will collapse. Aontú immediately calls for swift clarification, and if needs be an amendment of the law to allow for outdoor dining.

“Furthermore, Aontú calls for the reopening of indoor dining to be fast-tracked to further boost the sector’s recovery and remove their continued reliance on the government,” he added.