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However, he said he is working with Fine Gael and others to explore potential options for preserving rural social life amid his crackdown on drink-driving.

The tax breaks had been proposed by Fine Gael junior minister Brendan Griffin in an interview with the Irish Independent.

The suggestion came as Mr Ross plans to introduce a law that will see the introduction of a three-month mandatory ban for drivers found to have reached an alcohol limit of between 50-80mg per 100ml.

Mr Ross confirmed that he didn’t seek such tax breaks in the Budget.

But he said he has been in touch with Fine Gael and met with stakeholders such as the Vintners groups and rural organisations to discuss the issue of transport home for customers.

Mr Ross said: “We discussed in a very constructive way possible ways of relieving the problems of people who are going to pubs and can’t drive home and whether there is any way that that could be met by publicans and others bringing them home.”

He said he sympathises with the objective of preserving rural social life and measures that may be taken to do that.

Mr Griffin, the junior tourism minister, said a very important part of the overall Irish tourism product is the small pub.

He said that some of the potential solutions for transporting customers home are not Budgetary questions.

“It’s a case of exploring what are good ideas. Some of them won’t work and some of them might and we just need to keep an open mind… I’m very satisfied with the efforts that have been made to date,” he said.



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