Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


12:00 pm

Photo of Catherine ArdaghCatherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I will be brief but I wish to raise a few issues relating to the legislation we passed last week. First, I extend my condolences and those of the Fianna Fáil group to the ten families who lost loved ones yesterday, as well as to those who lost loved ones in the past week due to Covid-19 and to those in intensive care. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha. I also commend the Leader of the House on suggesting we clap front-line workers. Many of us stood outside our houses yesterday at 8 p.m. and witnessed the clapping for the front-line workers. It was very emotional. It felt like a very small gesture but I think it was appreciated. Obviously, the best thing we can do is stay at home and not encourage the further transmission of this virus.

Another thing we have all witnessed in the past while is the fact that many hospital workers on the front line are lacking personal protective equipment, PPE. If we look at other countries, we can see doctors and nurses fully kitted out in hazmat suits and really high-end PPE whereas in Ireland, we see bibs and masks. There is a significant order coming in but I urge the Minister for Health to do everything he can to get this PPE to those who need it on the front line quickly and expediently.

Dr. Gabrielle Colleran from the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said this morning that she wanted people to know that those with non-Covid-19 symptoms should still go to hospital, particularly those with heart attack or stroke-like symptoms, because they have a pathway for care for those people and want to look after them.

I have three points to make about the legislation passed last week. I understand that the Covid-19 payment is for those aged between 18 and 66. As there are people over 66 who, although they are in receipt of the contributory pension still rely on their income from their jobs, which they have lost, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection should look into this. We would also like to find out whether the wage subsidy scheme applies to company owners and directors. We were told that the Covid-19 payment scheme would apply in full to part-time workers but now we understand they will only get €203. Could we get some clarification on that?

Finally, nursing homes are crying out for help. There are 25,000 highly vulnerable people in nursing homes. We know they are the most vulnerable. Once this virus gets into a nursing home, it is very serious. Nursing homes are looking for support, PPE, staffing and funding so I ask the Government to look into this as well.


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