Warning over Covid parties in Cork: 'Every garage and shed will be an unsupervised drinking den'

Warning over Covid parties in Cork: 'Every garage and shed will be an unsupervised drinking den'

Publicans have warned that the decision to keep pubs shut will mean “every garage and shed in the country" will become an unsupervised drinking den.

PUBLICANS have warned that the decision to keep pubs shut will mean “every garage and shed in the country" will become an unsupervised drinking den.

Furious pub owners have suggested the introduction of a prohibition on alcohol sales following the decision of government to keep pubs shut until at least August 10.

Head of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Padraig Cribben, said pub owners were gobsmacked by the decision to keep them closed. 

"The real issue that we are seeing around the country is we are seeing house parties and we are actually seeing quite a growth in illegal shebeens growing around the country,” he said.

“Here is the question - if Government are really serious about tackling house parties, I think they have to look at whether they are going to allow alcohol to continue to be sold in supermarkets."

Leading Cork publican Benny McCabe has announced he will be opening several of his heritage pubs next week — those that serve food — while warning that the closure of drink-only bars will lead to a rise in Covid cases.

The publican said while 4,000 pubs will remain closed there were 25,000 unofficial pubs created “in every garage and shed in the country."

Mr McCabe said he had never witnessed an industry that has been "attacked in such a manner" but said ultimately “people will realise a lot more what the pubs stand for”.

Benny McCabe
Benny McCabe

Mr McCabe predicted a number of things would be realised in hindsight about the pub closures in months to come, including an uncontrollable spike in Covid cases due to unregulated house parties.

“It will be acknowledged that the delaying of opening pubs will have been a huge contributor to what in hindsight was a large spike in cases if they can’t control the house parties.”

The publican also said he thought drink driving will spike and alcohol-related admission to A&E will rise considerably as well as a “heinous rise in domestic abuse."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has suggested that pubs that do not serve food may not reopen as planned on August 10.

Mr Varadkar said pubs that do not serve food will not reopen any sooner than August 10, and he added the Government is not saying they will necessarily reopen on that date.

He told the Dail: "I have no doubt that the vast majority of publicans are responsible people and want to open their businesses. I want to see them reopen too. But I do need to be clear - what we're saying is that pubs and nightclubs will not reopen any sooner than August 10.

"We're not saying they will open on August 10 - we are saying they will open no sooner than August 10. It will depend on the numbers and how the virus behaves between now and then."

Meanwhile, West Cork garda Sergeant James O’Donovan, Crime Prevention Officer at Bandon Garda Station, is urging people to be mindful of how they socialise over the next few weeks.

Crime prevention officer James O'Donovan
Crime prevention officer James O'Donovan

“We’re appealing to people to take responsibility themselves and not attend large house gatherings,” he told The Echo.

Sgt O’Donovan’s comments come in the wake of the Government announcement that social visits to people's homes should be limited to a maximum of ten people from no more than four other households.

“We’re appealing to people who own the house as well as the people attending the parties to have a bit of consideration as to where they are going, the number of people that are there and to make a sensible decision as to where they are going to socialise over the next couple of weeks. 

"We have seen an increase in the number of parties being reported to us and there is a strong connection coming from the HSE and from NPHET that there is a connection between these house parties and the rises in the number of cases of Covid-19,” he continued.

Sgt O’Donovan said Gardaí are responding to calls where there are parties with large numbers and that it is not just young people at fault.

“It’s not just the younger people. There’s a wide age spectrum, we’re dealing with people from the ages of 17 right up to the ages of 45 and 50 that are going to large gatherings at houses,” he said.

“We’ve seen reports from across the country of house parties and people travelling in large numbers to different towns and renting houses and throwing parties and this will lead to a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases again. It’s already been seen.”

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