Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry has said local authorities across the country are blocking the public while at the same time officially encouraging an outdoors summer.
But they “can’t have it both ways”, the Sligo TD insisted as he called for policy alignment on the reopening of the economy and society.
“There’s no evidence to suggest the congregations of recent weeks, not just last weekend, has led to a spike in numbers,” he said.
“Let’s get give people the summer that they deserve. And then we might have the beginning of a recovery.”
Speaking during a debate on the National Economic and Resilience Plan Mr MacSharry welcomed the €913 million recovery funding from the EU but said “we’re talking as if the recovery has begun, and that society is open. Society is most certainly not open.”
“Where I live in Strandhill, there’s so many bollards on the seafront, I’d say had the Nazis done it in France on D-Day, God knows what the outcome of the war would have been.”
“We have a level of paranoia and scaremongering that is not consistent with either the numbers in hospital or the daily case numbers.”
The Sligo-Leitrim TD criticised chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan who was “tweeting over the course of the weekend his outrage over seeing people out doing what we told them to do”.
“You can have a takeaway a pint, or a Coca Cola, but don’t congregate on the canal, because the gardaí are going to come along” and make people leave.
“Where do we expect people to go? As we speak, over in Stephen’s Green we are fencing off the bandstand because the last thing we want is for people to congregate there.
“So you can’t have it both ways. And this is replicated all over the country, in Spanish Arch or where I live.”
Three Cork publicans prepare to begin trade again
Pensioners who like to read the paper as they enjoy a few leisurely pints are the cohort most excited by the resumption of indoor service in pubs, according to a Cork city publican who has only traded for two weeks since March 2020.
Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn, says his regulars have been phoning to check what time he is opening on Monday, with some saying they have not had a social outing since the start of the pandemic.
“We know all our regulars on a first-name basis. We have a man who comes in and has two or three pints on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He will read the paper but he will watch the world go by at the same time,” he said.
“He will chat when he wants to chat. He is in his late 70s and he wouldn’t have been out [socially] in 15 months.”
Mr O’Donovan said it has been a surreal time but was hopeful that better days were coming.
“We will adapt and get on with all the changes we have to make with how we do business,” he said. “It is difficult in that we never wanted to be asking people about their health status. We have to be cautious but it is another step in getting life back to the way we knew it.”
‘It has been a struggle’
Danny Collins was looking forward to reopening the Boston Bar in Bantry, west Cork after a year of many sleepless nights due to worries about keeping the business afloat.
“I have been going through my savings to pay the mortgage as we were only open for a couple of weeks last year,” the independent councillor said.
“It has been a struggle. Of course there were other bills as well. To have your pub cameras, you had to pay the internet bill. I was also advised to keep my cooler system running. In the winter, I had to put on the heating.”
Mr Collins said he was apprehensive about all the different regulations that will have to be complied with as indoor service returns, such as staffing all entrances, and that finding employees had been a struggle for those in the sector.
“I think the PUP [Pandemic Unemployment Payment] should be reviewed at this point,” he said.
‘We can’t wait to open’
In Cork city, publican Ernest Cantillon will be opening Electric bar/restaurant and Sober Lane bar this week.
During the pandemic, he set up an online cocktail sales business and sold takeaway food, allowing him to keep a core team of about 15 people employed despite his business only opening as a traditional pub for a couple of weeks last year.
“We have also shifted to a new model of opening four evenings a week,” he said. “We are opening next Wednesday through Saturday and then staff will have three days off. That has been a key factor in staff retention and recruitment. We are going to give it a go. We can’t wait to open.”
Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday
In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.
The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.
Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.
The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.
The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy
US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.
Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.
Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.
The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.
The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.
Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.
Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.
According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.
And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.
The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.
The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.
Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.
Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.
The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.
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