Three Fianna Fáil councillors, who happen to be publicans in their day job, united, at Mondays Meath County Council meeting, to condemn the government’s plan of separating vaccinated and non vaccinated patrons in a bid to restore indoor drinking and dining on the 19th of July.
Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Behan, who runs The Cottage Inn in Laytown, decided to raise indoor and outdoor dining during “any other business”. He claimed that they were promised indoor dining on the 5th of July, but those plans had changed.
He said that the separation between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people is “unworkable” and explained that staff in the hospitality sector have been “decimated” and some during the pandemic, have looked for jobs elsewhere, in different fields.
He said that in order to police who is vaccinated and who isn’t, businesses would have to employ, what he calls a “vaccine sheriff” and noted that restaurants and pubs will face problematic scenarios where a mother might be vaccinated, and her daughter might not: “will the mother dine inside, while her daughter dines outside?”.
Behan also asked the council to consider unvaccinated staff and said that people will be using the same facilities such as toilets, whether they are vaccinated or not. Behan proposed that the council should write a letter to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, to ask that there is no separation between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Speaking to Meath Live on Tuesday, Behan outlined further concerns saying, ‘ We have no legal right to access peoples medical records and effectively that is what we are being asked to do.
‘Another problem I foresee is forgeries, the cards as we know them are fairly simple ones and it won’t be a big deal for someone to make high quality replicas, also as I understand it all that will be on them is a persons name and the date on which they became fully vaccinated, if that is true then I could use your card and you could use mine, there certainly won’t be photo ID on them as people have not been asked to supply photographs’.
At the meeting Behan Cllr Padraig Fitzsimon (FF), who runs Paddy’s in Navan, claimed that if this is brought in, “You are pitting young versus old and families against each other”, he also believed that this could turn customers away and they will never come back. He claimed these “vaccine cards” are going to be impossible to police and that this separation is “going to cause more problems than advantages”.
Cllr Wayne Harding (FF), who owns the Village Inn in Slane, chimed in to say that he goes to Connemara yearly and if the weather is bad, you can’t dine outside as everything will be swept away.
He claimed that this could happen in Meath and made reference to the many pubs that have been wiped out and said “Irish weather won’t protect us if we are not indoors quickly”.
Cllr Gillian Toole (Ind) raised concerns about the vaccination status, and echoed Behan’s concerns over medical records. She claimed that a vaccination status would be considered a type of medical record, which you can only discuss with a medical professional. Toole believed that this might be some sort of “breach of data protection”.