Monday, 22 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I agree. I use the word "abhorrent" in describing those actions and the EU must take a much stronger stance. Words and platitudes will not suffice in this regard.
A second matter is one which we have grappled with in this Chamber since returning for this term. It is the strategy of living with Covid-19 and what we hope is the imminent lifting of some restrictions after 5 April. It would be wise to give Members in the House an opportunity to have a debate in which we can put the views expressed to us from people right across the country as to how they want to progress in the next phase. My view is that there must be some benefit to receiving the vaccine. For those who are aged 80 and up who are getting vaccines, if they are fully vaccinated, they should be granted additional freedom. I do not mind if I and others in a younger age cohort must be under prolonged restrictions for a little longer and I would certainly not begrudge an older person who is fully vaccinated from getting back out and living. Nobody would begrudge them that.
I see no reason somebody over 80 cannot access the public pool facilities in Castlebar, for example, which are open to elite athletes. It is open and being manned but fully vaccinated people, including front-line healthcare workers, cannot access it. There is a debate to be had in advance of what we hope is the reopening on 5 April. We have lost, to some extent, the public support of current restrictions. There are multiple shebeens operating around the country, people are getting their hair done and others are breaching guidelines because they just cannot cope with the restrictions as they currently stand. We must provide hope and a path out of this, with a debate in the House on how that could be done.