LEO VARADKAR says he deeply regrets the many closures his government were forced to impose on pubs across the country over the course of the pandemic.
He says he "felt really bad" about how many times pub owners were told they could reopen, only for the reopening date to be continuously pushed back.
The Tánaiste explained that the government was reluctant to offer a concrete 'roadmap' for the reopening of pubs this summer, for fear of letting publicans down if infection levels rise or the data changes.
Speaking on KCLR's The Bottom Line, Mr Varadkar said: "I can give an indication, we have avoided giving a roadmap.
"I remember the amount of times we told the pubs they were going to open in three weeks, then we kept pulling it away from them and I felt really bad about that.
"So you don't want to give somebody a plan that's not really a plan."
Pubs are set to open outdoor dining areas at the start of next month, with indoor dining set to follow in July, so long as the reopening process goes as planned.
Given the stop-start nature of last summer, and after losing the critically important Christmas period in 2020, pubs will be delighted to be able to take advantage of a month or two of summer business.
Pubs have more or less remained shut for the entirety of the pandemic, with only those able to serve customers 'substantial meals' afforded the luxury of opening briefly last year.
For the remaining pubs which cannot serve food - around 60% of all pubs in Ireland - most of them haven't seen a customer since March 2020.