Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Covid-19 Pandemic

7:25 pm

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I very much appreciate this Topical Issue being selected as it is very important. I will preface my comments on the digital green certificate development by saying in no way am I attempting to ignore public health advice. In fact, this measure, as designed by the Commission, is being introduced so that we can deal with it when the Covid vaccination programme reaches a particular point in time. I want to make this absolutely clear to the Minister of State and to my colleagues in the House.

I am sure the Minister of State can appreciate the gravity of the situation when it comes to certain sectors of our society. The most acute and possibly first affected by Covid-19 was the airline sector and then our tourism sector as a result. It is a profoundly important sector in our economy. In 2018 alone, it provided more than 140,000 people with employment and contributed more than €10 billion to the economy in terms of airlines and airports. I am sure it was more in 2019. On and off campus in the Dublin region it provides for more than 200,000 jobs. The importance of the sector and its recovery and ability to recover must be borne in mind.

This evening, the European Parliament committee voted on the digital green certificate, as proposed by the European Commission, with regard to fast-tracking the hearing process and the parliamentary scrutiny process before it goes back to the European Commission for further discussion and debate on the technical merits or demerits of the particular programme. It is being treated as a priority by the European Commission. My request of the Government this evening is that Ireland would carefully assess the proposal, as I would expect the Government to do, and develop its own means of adopting it as quickly as it possibly can so that, as I said here yesterday, when Ireland reaches a point where more than 80% of the population have been vaccinated, as the Government has indicated we will reach at the end of June or early July, we are ready to make a decision as to whether our airlines, pilots, cabin crew and ground crew can return to work. We all want them to do so when it is safe. My request to the Government this evening is to consider carefully the digital green certificate. I also ask it to consider carefully the effect it will have on hundreds of thousands of people and their families to hear that the Government is making a plan that includes them.

It is the same position I adopted yesterday and the same statement I have made on a number of occasions in this House. It is difficult for the Government to justify making a plan only to have to change it a few weeks or even a few days later, and I appreciate that. However, if we are planning for two or three months from now, it is a much easier proposition to make. There is far more understanding in the public sphere and among those pilots, cabin crew, ground crew, chefs, bartenders, waiters and everyone else who relies, to a certain extent, upon the aviation sector. That is why I would like to see the Government take this seriously and to adopt the digital green certificate once it is has gone through parliamentary scrutiny at the European Parliament and has been agreed by the Commission.

Again, I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, for being present to take this matter on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.