Seanad debates

Friday, 20 March 2020

An Bille Sláinte (Caomhnú agus Cosaint agus Bearta Éigeandála eile ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail), 2020: An Dara Céim - Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020: Second Stage

 

11:00 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)

I do not think any of us ever expected to be here today speaking on this particular subject. I want to preface my remarks by congratulating the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, the head of the HSE, the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the many responsible citizens we have in our country. Sadly, not all of our citizens are responsible. On Saturday night last, I tweeted an image of Temple Bar to the Taoiseach and rapid action was taken. This shows tremendous leadership. I am a bit tired of the keyboard warriors who continually attack the Government. The Government has shown that at a time of great need in this country it can step up to the plate and deliver the type of leadership that is required. I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Harris, and his fellow Cabinet members for what they have done.

I am deeply concerned by the news I heard this morning that backdoor pubs are operating throughout the country. Public houses have been advised to close but I understand some are operating the old backdoor policy and people are going in and sitting around quietly drinking. I wonder if these clowns have seen what is happening in Italy. Do they think for one moment that they are in some way immune from it? What they are doing is despicable. I have also seen advertisements by people who provide personal services such as hairdressing and so on to the effect that they will space out appointments so that people do not have to sit in a room with other people, with no consideration being given to the equipment and seating that will be used. We are in a crisis. People have to realise that we are at war. The enemy is not an enemy we are used to or one that we have seen before.

What is going on is a war against humanity not just the people of Ireland, the United States and so on. I call on the Government to raise with the European Union and the United Nations the plight of those countries around the world that are currently subject to sanctions as a result of political differences, including Russia and Iran, and cannot draw down the resources they need to buy vital equipment such as ventilators and protective clothing for their nursing staff. I am calling today for those sanctions to be lifted for the duration of this crisis. I appreciate that this matter falls outside of the remit of this country but this is a war against humanity. Fixing it in one particular corner of the world while allowing it to run rampant in other countries is not serving humanity in any way. I am asking that the United Nations and World Health Organisation be called on to lift immediately whatever sanctions are currently impeding the purchase of vital equipment for the saving of human life. If supervision is required to ensure that the equipment gets to the right people in the right places then let us do that. The type of leadership this country is showing needs to be shown across the modern world. The type of leadership being shown by the Minister, Deputy Harris, the Taoiseach and others needs to be shown across the world.

Yesterday I went to do some grocery shopping and I had two experiences. At approximately 9 a.m. I went to one of the designated supermarkets and it was swamped with people so I did not go in. Shortly after that, I went to an Aldi supermarket and it was the most surreal experience I have had in my life. People were adhering to social distancing in the aisles. For the first time ever in my life I saw people drift away from me. The message is getting out there, which is down to the Minister and his colleagues.I ask that we remind people on a more frequent basis that we need to keep our distance. The closer we get, the further away we should be. I thank the Minister.

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