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Social media backlash against Northern Ireland bars that stayed open for St Patrick's Day shindigs

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The Rock Bar

The Rock Bar

The poster advertising The Rock Bar's St Patrick’s Day events

The poster advertising The Rock Bar's St Patrick’s Day events

The Rock Bar

Pubs here that stayed open for St Patrick's Day celebrations - despite advice from the Prime Minister that people should avoid them to curb the spread of coronavirus - have been lambasted online.

Among those advertising that they were open for business yesterday were Filthy McNasty's and The Rock Bar in west Belfast.

Quinns in Newcastle held a St Patrick's Eve party on Monday night, although they did announce they were shutting their bar yesterday.

Boris Johnson stopped short of ordering pubs to shut their doors, so they have been legally entitled to stay open since his address to the nation on Monday.

But that didn't stop a backlash which saw many furious messages posted on social media.

The Rock Bar had advertised drinks promotions and 10 hours of music, including a set by convicted IRA bomber Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane. But yesterday there were dozens of comments on Twitter in response to the advertisement, including from Sinn Fein Senator Niall O Donnghaile who said: "Delete your account."

Other comments included a post from a user called Steve saying: "You guys have got this so wrong." Caoimhe Rua said: "Ah cop on lads. No amount of takings is worth the health of your staff and customers. Get 'er closed. We'll buy a load of pints when we come out the other side."

A user called Marymo said: "What are you playing at. Literally in the middle of a pandemic?"

Green Party councillor Brian Smyth called it "a total disregard for the community around you".

Meanwhile, Filthy McNasty's on Belfast's Dublin Road came in for flak for advertising on Facebook that it was "business as usual" as they wished punters a "Happy St Patrick's Day".

They said on Monday: "We want to ensure that you and all our customers feel safe during the St Patrick's celebrations with us today and tomorrow.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation, following the advice from WHO and keeping our hygiene to the highest standard to safeguard all our staff and customers. We are still open for business and want to invite you to our events that will be controlled in a safe and healthy manner!"

But they faced condemnation on their Facebook page, including from Paul O'Hare, who said: "Lots of other bars are closing! Do the right thing by closing, for the collective good!"

And Rory Brolly posted on their page: "Every other bar has voluntarily closed its doors. All bars down South ordered to close.

"Nothing 'safe' or 'healthy' about it ... close your doors."

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the bars yesterday and was unable to get through to The Rock Bar or Filthy McNasty's.

Quinns confirmed yesterday that they were open for their St Patrick's Eve event on Monday and remained open for "carry-out food and off-sales, but the bar is closed".

On Monday evening Mr Johnson announced a number of recommendations to try and combat the spread of coronavirus, including advising everyone to avoid gatherings and crowded places such as pubs, clubs and theatres.

On Sunday in the Republic the Irish Government asked all pubs, including hotel bars, to close from Monday until at least March 29 to curb the spread of Covid-19, and also strongly advised against house parties while the pubs are closed.

Belfast Telegraph