Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response

Business of Special Committee

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
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Good morning. We have a quorum so we are now in public session. I have been notified that Deputies Bernard Durkan, Ged Nash and Cormac Devlin will substitute for their party colleagues today. I have also been notified that Deputy Cullinane will chair the second session. Are the minutes of the meetings of 2, 9 and 10 September agreed? Agreed. Is it agreed that we have noted the ten items of correspondence received? Agreed.

To discuss business briefly, I do not want to go into a great amount of detail on proposals but if members have proposals to make we will hear them.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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We do not need to go into much detail on it. We possibly need a Teams meeting some time this week to hear people's proposals. In terms of my key proposal, obviously, we need an updated work schedule because we have a number of items to book in, including the nursing homes issue. We have the sitting on Friday also in respect of sports, which I believe should go ahead.

Yesterday, we had the launch of the living with the virus plan. No time was made available in the Dáil to debate that plan. We have to wait another couple of weeks before the committees are set up. Whether it is the health committee or business committee that might want to examine different parts of that plan, there is a need for this committee to examine it. There is still much confusion about it, despite the fact that we were told it would bring clarity. Even this morning we had Ministers contradicting what other Ministers had said the day before so there is a need for us to discuss that plan. We need to have the Minister for Health with the officials from the HSE and, if possible, NPHET come before the committee.

We need to hear from all of the actors that fed into that plan over a number of sessions or two or three sessions on the same day. There needs to be some scrutiny of the Bill and if this is the only committee that is available to do so then we should do it very quickly.

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
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I agree with the Deputy because it is a multidisciplinary plan so does not fall within any particular area. Hopefully, all of the committees will be established at the beginning of October to take over the work that we are doing but, in advance of that, we need to look at the plan. We should organise three meetings, perhaps the same type of meetings that we had in the middle of August. We can discuss the matter at a Teams meeting and hear various views.

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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I have no problem with the suggestion. However, the plan may very well change. If we are having an urgent meeting then it should be after tomorrow because there may be new developments tomorrow.

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
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I propose that we have a Teams meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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I would like us to delve into two things and the first is young people during Covid. The other night there was a terrible tragedy in Kilmainham. That is in my constituency so I am very well aware that such tragedy is not a rare event. The young people who need the attention of various services, youth services and the justice services are being completely neglected because the drop-in centres and outreach are not available due to Covid restrictions. We need to consider the impact this crisis is having on young people in communities and urgently put in place resources.

Second, Ryanair has requested to return to the committee to deal with the European regulations on airline travel because we are considering opening up travel and adding, for example, Sweden and Germany to the green list. Such a meeting would be very beneficial to us. There are a number of issues that arise from that discussion that we should consider.

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
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The Deputy has made valid suggestions. I suggest that we have a Teams meeting at a time to be agreed. Is that agreed? Agreed. We can move on to the business of today and we will discuss all of the proposals tomorrow.