Monday, 29 March 2021
Living with Covid-19: Statements
I am entitled to comment, but I accept what the Acting Chairperson says. I do not believe there is any point in our appointing a Minister with responsibility for vaccines. We already have two Ministers of State at the Department of Health and a Minister for Health. Backed up with officialdom, they are doing a very good job. I acknowledge that there have been bumps along the way, but there have been bumps all over Europe and in many countries. AstraZeneca sought to give vaccines to countries outside Europe rather than inside Europe. It is important that the UK and Europe get together on this matter. The bottom line is we are dealing with people's lives.
It is important that we all appeal to the people to remain calm at Easter and to not break the rules. By all means, they can go for a walk, but they know what they should not do. A sizeable minority continue to break the rules. I understand how difficult it is for people, but the sizeable majority are continuing to keep the rules. We need a way forward. I hope that the upcoming announcement from the Government will be about the opening up of particular areas, including, as mentioned, an extension of the 5 km restriction and the recommencement of sports such as football. Young people and others need to be allowed to get back to the training fields. I am involved with a number of sports clubs. As far as I am aware, there was no record of outbreaks where young people were training on fields. Many of the outbreaks in the football arena came from intercounty matches, etc. I agree with the comments of Senator Keogan and others in regard to the recommencement of sports. I know the Minister of State will be acutely aware of this need in her own area.
There has been much said about people missing out on education. The Minister for Education and the Government, working with the officials of the Department of Education, have done a good job in terms of education. Children missing out on education is very regrettable, but it is better that than children missing a parent, in my view. We were hit with a pandemic that stopped the world. That is the reality. The Irish Government and other governments were faced with a situation they had never before faced. It is sometimes easy for us as politicians, and for the public, to be critical of things from where we stand, but I have no doubt that a huge burden is on the shoulders of the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, and the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, every night before they go to bed and, again, every morning when they get up. They have to deal with all sorts of situations.
As I said, everything has not been perfect. One would swear sometimes from what one hears and reads that Ireland had the worst record in the world in terms of dealing with Covid. Ireland has one of the best records in that regard. When it comes to the quarantine of people, few countries have done what Ireland has done. Two or three people absconded from quarantine; that is not a crisis. As far as I am concerned, the purpose of quarantine is to stop people coming into this country, but if up to 5,000 people arrived here, I do not know how we would cater for them all in terms of quarantine.
I express the view that everybody is entitled to their view.