Not a takeaway pint to be found in Dublin after Taoiseach’s last orders

Diageo and Heineken stopped delivering draft beers and stouts to pubs last week

The message from Taoiseach Micheál Martin that people should “forget about takeaway pints” as the country struggles to curb the spread of Covid-19 seems to have hit home.

A stroll around the usual spots in Dublin on Saturday night where one might expect to get a takeaway pint proved unsuccessful though it was established one pub in Dublin 7 was operating the service. The manager did not want to talk about the matter, however.

On South William Street and other streets around Grafton Street, in the city centre, all of the pubs appeared to be closed.

Two young men outside Boeuf Steakhouse on South William Street, who did not want to give their names, said they had been all over the city centre looking for pints, but had been unsuccessful.


They both worked from home, and felt the need to get out and do something different, one of them said while waiting for takeaway hot whiskies they’d ordered from Boeuf Steakhouse.

“We’ve both had Covid. We don’t feel we’re being irresponsible,” he said.

The main drinks companies, including Diageo and Heineken, stopped delivering draft beer and stout to pubs last week, a repeat of the policy they operated during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Mark Grainger, of Grainger's Hanlon Corner, said his pub was operating a home delivery service for drinks and food, and was quite busy, but had decided not to run the takeaway service that had been operating prior to Christmas.

On Wednesday last when announcing increased lockdown measures, the Taoiseach said publicans should “forget about takeaway pints”, the sale of which encouraged social gatherings that were at odds with the new Covid-19 regulations designed to keep people at home.

However, it remains legal for publicans to sell takeaway pints and to do home deliveries.

“He came out very strong about it the other evening on the television, and he said no more takeaway pints; he was very dogged about it,” said Mr Grainger.

“He could have been a bit nicer about it, because we are all struggling at the moment, to try to survive this thing.”

However, even though the law had not changed, “we’re not doing it anyway. We never did much of it anyway,” he said.

It was more the well publicised situations from South William Street, Temple Bar, Galway city and Cork, that the Government had problems with, he said, with people gathering outside pubs and drinking.

Home deliveries

Home deliveries, on the other hand, did not lead to people congregating. He had three drivers on duty on Saturday night delivering pints and, to a lesser extent, food.

A woman in the Back Page pub, on Phibsborough Road, Dublin 7, said she was there as part of the pizza operation. There was no one there connected with the drinks business, and pints were not being sold “because the Government told us not to”.

A spokesman for the Vintners Federation of Ireland said the Taoiseach’s message that takeaway pints were not acceptable had gone out “loud and clear” and the trade was supportive.

A change in the law to ban takeaway pints would affect off-sales too, and a change in the law that affected the delivery of pints would be likely to affect supermarket deliveries that included alcohol, said the spokesman for the organisation, which represents the pub trade outside Dublin.

“Everyone supports the Taoiseach,” he said. “Right now it is about hunkering down and getting the numbers to a point where we can reopen.”

Last week Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government was considering banning the sale of alcohol after a certain time of day. Mr Varadkar also said the Government was working on new public health regulations to strengthen the law around drinking alcohol in public streets to give gardaí more powers of enforcement. Mr Varadkar said the banning of takeaway pints was not straightforward because it could result in a ban on takeaway alcohol for restaurants and off-licences.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent