Friday, 27 March 2020
An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: An Dara Céim - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Second Stage
I want to make a few comments briefly because I know we have urgent and important work to do here today. As was pointed out, hundreds of thousands of people are relying on us to do our work in as expedient a manner as possible. We hope the Minister will take on board some of our suggestions and some other amendments from other Members of the House. We want to work in a collaborative fashion and do the best job possible for the people of Ireland here today.
It is worth making the following point again and again until the message seeps through. The worst is yet to come. I am saying that without trying to take hope from people but we will face into much more difficult times and we need to hammer home the message that people need to stay home. It is okay for people to go out for a short form of exercise during the day, within their family unit, but it is not okay for people to meet up with their friends to go for walks or runs together, which I have witnessed. This is not okay. One can go out to get food or medicine but they should stay at home otherwise. This is to protect our front-line workers, who we have applauded and paid tribute to but the best tribute we can pay to them is to stay at home. It is also the vulnerable and older people within our communities who need to be protected by our actions. I want to remind people that these people often bore the brunt of the last economic collapse. They are the ones who kept the show on the road in a lot of families. They looked after grandchildren, they kept the heads of their own children above water and they kept families together in the face of massive crises. These are the people we need to show solidarity with by staying at home.
I look forward to debating the legislation but we are mindful in Fianna Fáil that it needs to go through as quickly as possible and that a stable Government should be formed. As was said, there may be issues with this legislation that we need to just put in place tonight and then we can deal with any issues that arise as quickly as possible.