#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 17°C Monday 21 June 2021
Advertisement

TD lambastes Donegal’s new 'rat line - the tout line' for reporting Covid breaches

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said that the setting up of the Garda hotline “wasn’t something that we recommended”.

Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said the setting up pf such a phoneline is not the appropriate response needed.
Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said the setting up pf such a phoneline is not the appropriate response needed.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

INDEPENDENT DONEGAL TD Thomas Pringle asked the Taoiseach today ”on what planet is this Government” if its response to Covid outbreaks in Donegal is the setting up a Garda hotline for reporting breaches of Covid-19 guidelines.

Yesterday, gardaí in Donegal said a dedicated phone line for reporting breaches was to be set up.

Over the weekend Health Minister Stephen Donnelly met with public health officials, the HSE and Donegal politicians to discuss additional supports for the country, which has seen its Covid-19 incidence rate creep well over the national average. 

The national 14-day incidence rate is 134.1 per 100,000 people, according to today’s figures, while the latest incidence rate in Donegal stands at 306.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Last week Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said public health officials were reporting “reasonably widespread non-compliance with basic measures”. 

Pringle said Donegal was highlighted as “the worst county in class in terms of its continuing high rates of Covid-19″. 

The highest rates of infections are in Milford and Letterkenny, said Pringle, whereas infections in the south of the county are very low, around three times lower than the national average.

Speaking about the dedicated phone line – which Pringle dubbed a “rat line – a tout line through which neighbours are asked to tout on neighbours”, Pringle said “that is crazy” if that is the response to the situation from “officialdom”.

“We need walk-in test centres and vaccination clinics in Donegal and extension of the current centres and clinics for more than one week to ensure that people can get tested, not a hotline through which people are being encouraged to inform on their friends and neighbours in respect of breaches of the Covid-19 restrictions,” he said.

“It will do nothing but set back the response in the county,” he added.

The Taoiseach said he had no knowledge of the hotline mentioned. 

“I do not like the use of the language around it. It has wider connotations,” he said.

Pringle also criticised the meeting between ministers, the CMO and local representatives calling it a “public relations exercise”. 

While he welcomed the announcement of a self-referral testing centre opening in Milford Mart today, more needs to be done, he said.

Rather than non-compliance, Pringle said issues relating to he access to test centres and vaccines for people in Donegal is what is playing out.

The Taoiseach said the country is making progress. In terms of hospitalisations and ICU numbers, the situation is extremely positive, he said.

“For example, as of this morning there were 132 people in hospital and 39 in intensive care,” he said, adding that he did not accept the Deputy’s analysis that the online meeting was “PR stunt”. 

“It is important that where the numbers are high, there is awareness around that issue. We know from previous experiences during the pandemic that when people see numbers rising in any particular location, that affects behaviour.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

“It can lead to a change of behaviour. For example, if numbers go up in hospitals or if the numbers of cases rise more generally, it leads to greater caution. That in itself is not a negative,” said Micheál Martin.

He said the opening of the walk-in test centre in Milford is an important outcome of what transpired at the weekend, and said if additional walk-in centres are required, they should be provided.

“Everything must be done to make sure that Donegal, along with the country, continues with the reopening of key sectors of society and the economy. It would be an awful pity if that was not to transpire. I have every confidence that we can improve on the figures in terms of the number of cases in Donegal,” said the Taoiseach.

On the matter of the Garda hotline, Pringle said:

“As far as I am aware, Donegal is the only place in Ireland where that is happening.

“That has been the response of officialdom to the high incidence of Covid-19 infection in Donegal. This high incidence of infection needs to be tackled. There is no doubt about that.

“However, it needs to tackled in a holistic way, not in a way that isolates people or puts them on the back foot, which is what the response thus far is doing. This matter needs to be tackled properly.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has told Virgin Media News that the setting up of the Garda hotline “wasn’t something that we recommended”.

Read next:

COMMENTS (34)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel