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Taoiseach to ask NPHET for advice on if people can go fishing under Covid restrictions

Some TDs have been angling for a change to the restrictions to allow solitary fishing.

Image: Shutterstock/470images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has told the Dáil he intends to seek advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on whether individuals can be permitted to go fishing without breaking the current restrictions in place upon the Irish public.

Current exceptions to leaving home include essential workers travelling to work, and people going to shops for essential items, for vital family healthcare reasons or to take physical exercise within a 2km radius. People over 70 are also being told to stay at home – which is referred to as cocooning.

These restrictions were set to last until 5 May but the government looks set to extend them following guidance from NPHET tomorrow. Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said last night he didn’t anticipate the advice would change

Those restrictions don’t reference if people can go fishing, and Varadkar said today it has come up a few times in discussions he has had.

Government chief whip Sean Kyne had previously raised angling with the chief medical officer and suggested people should be allowed fish in rural settings during a meeting with ministers.

Today, independent Clare TD Michael McNamara raised the matter directly with the Taosieach in the Dáil.

He said: “Tomorrow is May Day. It is the start of the mayfly season on Lough Corrib and Lough Derg. Fishing is something that people have done for generations, through the Spanish influenza, which was far more deadly than this disease has proven to date, and before that. By definition, it is a solitary activity by its nature. 

I would ask the Taoiseach to look at that issue in how mayfly fishing is treated. I am not talking about people on jet skis and dangerous activities. I am talking about something that has happened for generations.

Varadkar responded: “I will certainly seek advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team, NPHET, on mayfly fishing. The issue of solitary fishing in general – people fishing on a local lake or river on their own – has come up on a number occasions. It is something that I will seek advice on.”

NPHET is due to meet tomorrow morning before its recommendations on further restrictions are brought to Cabinet at 3pm. The Taoiseach is then due to address the public tomorrow evening.

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Sean Murray

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