Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath says that rural pubs are being destroyed by the continued lockdown, and that people were “tired, fatigued and quite angry” at the mixed messaging from the government.

He said that the country was on an “uncharted course” and that publicans felt that they had been walked on and their businesses destroyed. “The majority of publicans are good employers, good custodians of the law,” he said, adding that they had “provided a vital service to rural Ireland.”

“They are not reckless traders,” the Independent TD said, pointing to what he described as an ‘apartheid’ in how rural pubs were being treated in contrast to those in cities.

He also pointed out that NPHET had never suggested to the government that pubs be obliged to provide a €9 meal, and described the restriction as a “nonsense”.

“We need to have a working economy dealing alongside Covid,” Deputy McGrath said. “I’m not diminishing for one minute the gravity of a person being seriously ill with Covid and the deaths that we have had have been so sad but we have to work with this like we did with other outbreaks over the years.”

“We need a clear roadmap forward now to allow pubs and other businesses to open, we need to have disability services up and running,” he told Gript News.

Deputy McGrath said that Deputy Peadar Tóibín had the Covid Committee asked why data collection on suicides by Irish hospitals were suspended as a result of the lockdown, and he said that mental health issues because of lockdown were becoming a pressing problem.

He also said that despite decades of a push to separate Church and State, the state was now dictating to the churches