Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


12:00 pm

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

As I know for certain this is my last Order of Business, I certainly want to speak. I commiserate with Senator Ruane on the loss of her nan and with all those who have lost loved ones to this virus. It is probably the most difficult set of circumstances in which to lose a loved one, as the Senator so eloquently pointed out.

I praise my colleagues for all the work they have done. Having been working in my surgery every day, I am cognisant that every time there is a change, confusion can result. The telephones never stop ringing. I am referring to our reception and administrative staff, not just in general practitioners' surgeries but throughout our healthcare system. The staff are handling a large number of calls. I thank the public and, in particular, my own patients. They have shown such restraint and understanding over recent weeks in what is clearly a very worrying time for them.

There are many issues that need to be clarified. We will do so when considering the Bill so I will not delay. What I do want to say, however, because I feel very strongly about it, is that anybody who coughs or spits at somebody is guilty of an offence at the same level as the offence committed by somebody who threatens somebody with a syringe full of blood. What will dictate the outcome for this country and the number of people we will lose is not the behaviour of this virus but our behaviour as a society and as communities.I ask those who think that this is fun and that it is all right not to maintain social distancing to please think of the people in their lives whom they love, such as their grandparents, the vulnerable in their households who may have underlying conditions, and indeed the 21 year old girl who died in England with no underlying conditions. This is as serious a situation as we could have. We could have a really good outcome if we all obey the rules for safe social distancing, covering one's mouth with a hanky or elbow when coughing or sneezing, and staying at home as much as possible. I saw one YouTube video of doctors holding up a sign stating that they are staying at work to keep people safe, and to please stay at home to keep the doctors safe.


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