Monday, 22 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I agree with Senators' remarks on that matter.
The Covid numbers at the moment are worrying, and it is natural that the Government will feel it could send mixed messages by lifting some restrictions. We are all familiar with the expression "if you give them an inch, they will take a mile", but I think we are at the stage that if we do not try to give people an inch, they will run a mile. I also speak as a mum to two young children who, like others, desperately need to go back to school but who are still suffering with the ongoing restrictions, which have taken a toll. Having one family to meet with outside and to play with in restricted numbers would make a world of difference, as would the resumption of sports and other activities in a highly controlled outdoor environment, instead of what is happening at the moment, and an extension to the 5 km restriction for some breathing space. I am talking about a balance of being conservative but compassionate based on controlled outdoor environments. We could also maximise our available outdoor space better. The parks and amenities within our 5 km limits are under severe pressure, the Phoenix Park and St. Catherine's Park, on different sides of Dublin 15, to name two. We can take pressure off them by utilising other outdoor spaces. I am talking specifically about Dublin Zoo and other amenities such as Fota Wildlife Park that are able to control numbers entering their gates by the hour in a way the public parks just cannot. Dublin Zoo could keep its indoor facilities closed. It could run a one-way system. Tickets could be pre-booked, the benefit of which would be that there would be plenty of space and there would be lots of distance between families. It could open only for people within a 5 km travel radius. As an organisation it is struggling to survive when we could be making use of local outdoor attractions in a controlled manner. Sometimes to get a little we have to give a little, and that is an example.