Seanad debates

Monday, 29 March 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements

 

10:30 am

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)

Yes, the Senator did. I would prefer to get the Senator a written response because he asked a very reasonable and very important question about what is legal and what is advisory. I want to ensure he gets a precise answer to that question. I will ensure that the Department reverts to him with exactly that. I acknowledge that for many people not being able to attend Mass in person - obviously, they can still do it online - is very tough for them. The only reason such restrictions are in place is to keep people alive; that is it.

Over the next 24 hours there will be considerable focus on what the Cabinet decides tomorrow. I have my views on what needs to be done. Regardless of that, enormous progress has been made. We now have one of the lowest rates in Europe. Many lives are being saved by the progress and the sacrifices to date. We need to protect that. This new variant is incredibly contagious. As we can all now see, any little changes to what we do, any relaxations, increase it. We are now in level 5 and we are seeing cases increase; that is how contagious this is.

What can be done will be done. Ultimately in a relatively small period of time, the vaccine programme will start bending that curve of the number of cases downwards again. Then, as a nation, as an Oireachtas, as a people and as a community we will be able to have the conversation that we have all wanted to have for the past year, which is how we begin to reopen, see each other, spend time with each other, hug each other, go to work, go to college, go to school and all those things.

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