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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 6°C The government will discuss the proposals with sectors and return with a plan by 19 July.
'absolutely bananas'

'Not practical, unenforceable and discriminatory': Government’s latest Covid plans branded unacceptable

Opposition TDs have called on the government to rescind its decision, describing it as “absolutely bananas”.

THE GOVERNMENT’S PLAN to limit indoor activities to those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 has been described as “discriminatory and “unenforceable” in the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions, Labour leader Alan Kelly called on the Government to rescind its decision, describing it as “absolutely bananas” and “shocking stuff”, while Independent TD Mattie McGrath accused the Government of trying to create a system of “apartheid”.

Independent Galway TD Catherine Connolly said the Government’s plans will have serious implications and will create a “division among our people”.

“Proceeding down this divisive road is unacceptable,” she said.

The Government confirmed today that drinking and eating inside bars and restaurants will be delayed for several weeks. It was due to resume on 5 July.

NPHET has advised that indoor dining should only be allowed to resume in the coming weeks for those who are fully vaccinated or who have immunity from the virus, with the Taoiseach today refusing to be drawn on specifics or detail about how such a plan might work. Instead, he said the government will discuss the proposals with sectors and return with a plan by 19 July.

“We’re essentially saying to the young people of Ireland, your summer will consist of staying at home and watching ‘Love Island’, because that’s what we think of you,” said the Labour leader.

“When did discrimination by government become the norm in Ireland,” he said dubbing it “amateur hour”. 

He said the government should not be pushing discrimination.

Kelly said: “What you’re saying is that I can go in and get a meal down the street in a restaurant or go for a pint. My colleague here, Duncan Smith, sitting behind me, can’t,” he added.

“I’ve to leave him sitting outside the door. That’s discrimination. That’s wrong. In Ireland, we don’t practice discrimination. Certainly, governments shouldn’t be pushing it, which is effectively what you’re doing.

“I think you’re going to learn a big political lesson over the coming days, weeks. No, I’ll rephrase that – over the coming seconds, minutes, hours, in relation to this decision.

“You’re going to have to rescind it. It’s not practical. It’s unenforceable and it’s discriminatory.”

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, who was taking Leaders’ Questions, defended the Government’s decision.

He said ministers wanted to sit down with industry stakeholders before devising and developing a plan.

“The appropriate approach was not to jump to a conclusion or to immediately offer a solution,” he said.

“It was to say, we need now to establish a plan, which actually gives us a further certain path to reopening which will not be opening and then closing again.”

He added: “There is no discrimination in the intent behind the Government but we did have to listen to the analysis that the health officials presented.”

He told TDs that the Government does not want to provide false promises.

“What we don’t want is kind of false promises where we say: ‘Everything is fine, sure, Delta doesn’t exist, it’s not a problem, we can ignore what NPHET say, we’re not worried about the modelling,’ and we find ourselves in greater difficulties later in the summer, but that is one of the possibilities if we were to ignore the advice that is given, and that’s not what we’re going to do.”

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane said the Taoiseach today announced that the government has no plan, saying that this comes down to leadership and planning. 

He said he wants to be briefed by NPHET and see the plan from government before he would state whether his party backs the idea of only allowing fully vaccinated people to dine indoors and enjoy other indoor activities. 

“It doesn’t sit well with me. I am not sure it’s fair, I am not sure it’s workable,” he said, adding that it is a concern.

“I do have a concern that for  young people that they will feel disenfranchised, that they will feel let down, and will feel left out, they will feel sore about this. If it is not workable, then there’s a problem and the government have to demonstrate how it’s going to work,” said Cullinane.

With reporting by Press Association

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