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Last borders Publican reveals harsh reality of locals set to go North as shops and pubs reopen


Conor O’Neill with parents Anne and Paul in the Glyde Inn

Conor O’Neill with parents Anne and Paul in the Glyde Inn

Conor O’Neill with parents Anne and Paul in the Glyde Inn

A Co. Louth publican has said he will be looking enviously across the Cooley Peninsula to the North over the coming weeks as their counterparts get ready to reopen for business.

It comes as business owners in border counties have urged customers in the Republic to remember to support their local economy.

Restrictions in Northern Ireland are being eased this month with hairdressers and close-contact businesses reopening this Friday followed the following week by non-essential retails and pubs and restaurants that serve outdoors.

Pubs and restaurants will be allowed served indoors from May 24 under the roadmap.

While the Government has yet to announce when pubs will reopen south of the border, it is understood it is currently considering reopening outdoor hospitality in June and indoor hospitality in July.

Conor O'Neill, who runs the Glyde Inn in Annagassan, Co. Louth, said: "From our seaside terrace, where we serve food and drink, you can see the Mourne Mountains and Dundalk Bay. We will almost be able to see the pubs opening from out the back."

He said he accepts the North is reopening sooner because their vaccine rollout is ahead of the South but said publicans in the Republic should be told when they can get back to business.

"From our point of view, we just need a roadmap so we have something definitive we can work towards. For staff, for customers, for mental health, for everything we just need to know when we can open up."

He said all pubs, restaurants and accommodation providers should reopen at the same time and rules like requiring a €9 meal should be scrapped.

"The idea of having to have a €9 meal was a disaster and the 15 people outdoors was such a disaster as well, so I hope they don't go down that route again.

"We were lucky we had a full restaurant and did food but we'd also have lads who just came in for a pint and you have to say to them I'm sorry you have to buy food, but there was so much waste.

"People will be very safety conscious when they come back and we will ensure people can enjoy themselves in a safe atmosphere. It's the mixed messaging that really gets to you..

"We're just looking forward to getting open again, whether it's indoor, outdoor, with restrictions, without restrictions we just want to known when."

He said it was inevitable people will travel across the border when things reopen in the North.

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"I would only imagine people are going to go over. If you look at social media today people are talking about going over to Penny's and going for a pint and a meal across the border. It's going to happen."

Paddy Malone, from the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, said people will travel north to shop, drink and eat but urged them to remember to think about the local economy as well.

"We would like to think that people would abide by government regulations by not going into the North, leaving their county and all the rest of it. I'd like apple pie and ice cream every day of the week, too, but it ain't going to happen."

He accepts the reality that people will travel north initially. "I can understand that but we would hope they moderate what they do and save the bulk of what they spend until we're open in the South."

He said border towns like Dundalk are well used to the border affecting their business, whether it's through fluctuations in Sterling or Brexit-related issues, but he is confident they are resilient and will bounce back.

"We've lived with boom and bust for years. We don't like it and would prefer the one approach for economic and other matters. It hasn't happened and we just have to get on with it."

He said even if gardaí try to stop people travelling north they will find a way.

"It might stop those from Dublin doing it but those who are local know all the other roads. There are hundreds of crossings.

"The best we can do is ask people to spend in moderation. Yes enjoy the fact there's going to be a break and you can get your haircut and this and that but don't go for the second one and wait a couple of weeks if the southern hairdresser isn't open."

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Online Editors