Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Workplace Ventilation (Covid-19) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
I thank the Deputy who introduced this Bill. I would give it a guarded welcome as it does not specifically mention ventilation in our schools nor does it mention who will pay for the increased cost of fitting these air filtration devices. The Minister of State is acutely aware of what is involved in running a business, be it a small, medium or large-scale one. Some Members in this House are of the view that employers can manage and pay for everything but they must also balance their books and ensure they can keep people in employment. If the Government goes along with this measure, it would be insisting that it would have to provide funding by way of grants to all the businesses to insert these devices.
In the limited time available, I wish to discuss what is happening with respect to ventilation in our schools. Parents are deeply concerned. We must remember students, be they the small youngsters in national school or the teenagers in secondary school, are perished with the cold. They are sitting in classrooms with the windows and doors open. We want to keep our schools open. The phones lit up today with calls from parents who are concerned about their children having to wearing masks. We must think about our youngsters. The virus is an awful worry to all of us but the other health issues related to young students and children who are perished with the cold in classrooms every day are also worrying. We must think about how we are managing their welfare at this time. We must be very careful because this is horrendous. The Minister of State can think back to when he was going to school and he can imagine if he had to sit in a classroom all day with no heat and a gale-force wind blowing through the school. It is frightening. Like every other public representative here, I have been inundated with parents contacting me to say they are very worried and angry because they are concerned for their children’s welfare. I would give the Bill a cautioned welcome.