Thursday, 21 October 2021
Covid-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting: Statements
I will send letters I have to the Minister and the Ministers of State. They are from 21 October and 24 September. I do not expect them do deal with them during my speech. They show what we are dealing with.
In dealing with two agencies in Galway, the Health Service Executive states that the waiting list for children in respite services is 34 weeks, for enhanced services it is 14 weeks and for adult services it is 45 weeks. These are the low figures. We asked the service to break down the agency from zero to three months up to four years. At the end of that we have 89 adults waiting more than four years. Something may be wrong with the reply but I am only reading what I have relating to respite services. I can pick from the range. Eight adults are waiting two to three years. Six are waiting for 12 to 18 months. There are also data on children.
Getting that information alone has been a marathon and it was with the help of the Department that we got it. It is truly shocking that people were waiting so long prior to Covid-19 and during the pandemic for the most basic services. I have seen this in Galway because I am on the ground all the time. It is amazing what people are dealing with when it comes to care. They are saving the State a fortune and they love the people with them, who are very vulnerable. They have absolutely no respite.
After seeing this I witness a discussion on "Cinderella" licences and whether people can dance after midnight. This demonstrates a split in our population, which is totally unacceptable. We saw this happening in the beginning, gently and insidiously, when people over 70 were told they had to stay in their houses. Months later it was argued that was not really said but we encouraged people to stay in their houses. We are doing the exact same thing again and ignoring that the five criteria set out in that very long letter from NPHET have been ignored one way or another.
It seems we should have learned and I must keep asking why we are not learning? Why are we not learning that we cannot put all our eggs in one basket? NPHET has even said that in the letter because it raises the possibility there could be another variant and existing vaccinations may not deal with the current variant. Nevertheless, somebody is writing speeches for the Minister and other Deputies to demonise those who make their decision in the full knowledge of what is best for them while complying with all the rules. I have no time for somebody who does not comply with the rules, such as wearing a mask or endangering people.
Ultimately, it is a decision for the person. We are, therefore, persisting in this decisive manner and ignoring what is really happening. We have ignored the absence of a human rights assessment of any legislation passed. We are debating today without any regulations before us, unless I am wrong and they have been published. I am speaking in a vacuum.
Very little information has been provided on ventilation. Over the past few years I have stayed in hotels where the window did not open because building regulations allowed that, although not in the hotel I am currently staying in. We have allowed a system to develop whereby ventilation has not been built in as a necessity.
We have refused to consider antigen testing and have failed utterly from the beginning in regard to testing and tracing. Now we will demonise and isolate people and turn one against the other, when it is totally unnecessary.
How does the Minister stand over the confusion and contradictions? Nightclubs are set to reopen, but respite care is still closed. We are all in this together and yet we are going to divide and conquer. A negative Covid test is sufficient for unvaccinated people to travel to Ireland, but is not sufficient for indoor dining. The issue of CO2monitoring was raised by other Deputies.
I could go on given that I have been given the benefit of extra time, but I will not. It is extremely difficult for me to go out and to inspire confidence with the confusing and contradictory messages we are getting and their divisive nature.