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Cabinet and Acting CMO restricting their movements after Stephen Donnelly is sent for Covid-19 test, Dáil to resume this evening

It was confirmed earlier that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly felt unwell this afternoon and is now isolating.

Varadkar, Donnelly and Martin earlier today.
Varadkar, Donnelly and Martin earlier today.
Image: Julien Behal Photography

Updated Sep 15th 2020, 6:35 PM

THE ENTIRE CABINET is now restricting their movements but the Dáil will resume this evening after it had earlier been abandoned for a week.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn is also restricting his movements at this time, it has been confirmed this evening. 

Earlier, it emerged that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly had begun self-isolating after feeling unwell this afternoon.

A spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “The minister for health began to feel unwell this afternoon. He contacted his GP and has been referred for a Covid-19 test. As per public health guidance, he is now self-isolating.”

He, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar led a press conference this afternoon to announce the government’s new framework for Living with Covid-19 over the next six-nine months.

The Dáil is now adjourned until “further notice”, the Ceann Comhairle said this evening. 

He said that members of the Cabinet were self-isolating but a spokesperson said they were told to restrict movements, as per health guidance.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Féargháil told TDs: “I have serious information. I’m told that arising out of events today, the Cabinet must now self-isolate.

Therefore the matter of proceeding with business does not arise and the house stands adjourned, I suspect, until Tuesday next. Or until I’m directed by the Taoiseach to reconvene the house. So Dáil adjourned until further notice.

However, Labour leader Alan Kelly told RTÉ Radio 1′s Drivetime programme this evening that the Taoiseach confirmed to him the Dáil will return this evening, with junior ministers set to answer questions. 

Senior ministers who attended Cabinet will not be present. 

The Taoiseach told RTÉ’s Six One News that the Dáil will resume at around 8pm this evening. 

He said he had engaged with the Ceann Comhairle’s office following the Dáil’s earlier suspension and that junior ministers would be available to answer questions. 

Speaking to the same programme, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said it was “news to [her]” that the Cabinet would be restricting their movements the Dáil was suspended.

McEntee said: “As you can appreciate, I will have to engage with colleagues on this”.

She added there are “very clear procedures” in place when someone gets Covid-19 in a workplace, and the Dáil is the same.

“I can and I will [work from home],” she said. 

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Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan tweeted that the decision to stop Dáil business for a week because “of concern about one Cabinet minister is not proportionate”. 

“[A] junior minister should deal with government business,” he said. “Governance of the country can’t come to a standstill because of one suspected outbreak.”

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald also described the developments as “a bad turn of events. 

She said she wishes Donnelly well after he indicated he planned to take a test for Covid-19, but cautioned against closing government down.

“If anyone needs to be tested, of course they need to be tested. But we have to avoid, if at all possible, closing down Government business,” she told RTE.

With reporting from Christina Finn and PA

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Sean Murray

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