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Donnelly says people shouldn't 'switch off' from Covid restrictions while on holiday

A report into the attendance of Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe at the infamous Golfgate dinner said he “switched off from news coverage” while away.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (file photo).
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (file photo).
Image: Julien Behal via RollingNews.ie

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Stephen Donnelly has said people should still pay attention to Covid-19 updates and guidelines when on holiday.

A report published yesterday into the attendance of Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe at the infamous Golfgate dinner in Co Galway in August found that his resignation would be “unjust and disproportionate”.

The report, written by retired judge Ms Justice Susan Jane Denham SC, stated: “Mr. Justice Woulfe was not aware of any public pronouncement, that night, by the Government, of new rules in relation to public dining. He was on holidays and had switched off from news coverage.”

The scandal cost then-Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary a seat at Cabinet and EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan was also forced to resign having attended the event.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Donnelly noted the separation between the government and the judiciary.

When asked if he would advise people “not to switch off” in relation to restrictions while they’re on holidays, Donnelly said “absolutely”.

The minister said nobody who attended the event in Clifden “intended to cause the anger and frustration” they did.

“It was bad judgement by people who were certainly not trying to hurt and upset people, but unfortunately there was an awful lot of hurt and upset out of that.

“All of the public health measures that we apply when we’re in our home, when we’re at work, when we’re playing sports, whatever it is, all of that does apply when we’re away as well.”

Donnelly said it’s up to every person to say every day: “I’m going to do my best. I’m going to watch the two metres. I’m going to use the face coverings. I’m going to clean my hands. I’m going to follow the basic infection prevention control measures that we know work.”

Dublin

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) yesterday recommended new nationwide restrictions on household visitors.

NPHET recommended that household visits should be limited to six people from one visiting household, in counties currently at Level 2 and Level 3.

New Covid-19 cases were confirmed in every county yesterday, with 442 new cases (including 170 in Dublin and 28 in Donegal) and four new deaths.

Dublin’s Level 3 status is due to expire next Friday, with a decision on whether it will be extended due to come next week. In Donegal, Level 3 restrictions are to continue for at least the next two weeks.

The 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 in Donegal is the highest in the country at 211.1 per 100,000. In Dublin, the 14-day incidence stands at 159.3 per 100,000, with 2,147 cases confirmed in the last two weeks.

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Donnelly said it takes “at least 10 days” to see the impact of new restrictions on case numbers. He said there is “some initial cautious optimism” the measures are working in Dublin.

“What the public health teams are looking at is the cases per 100,000, as well as other things,” Donnelly said, adding that “the rate of increase in the virus is slowing, which is exactly what the measures were meant to do”.

“I know from from working in Dublin, from walking around Dublin, from being in Dublin, you can see on the streets that people are taking these measures seriously, and the initial indications are that those efforts are working and that the rate of increase is slowing, which is exactly what we need to see.”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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