Seanad debates

Monday, 29 March 2021

Living with Covid-19: Statements

 

10:30 am

Mary Seery Kearney (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Well said. I completely agree with Senator Ward. The comparisons are disingenuous.

I am someone who errs very much on the side of caution. I would prefer to see an extension of the restrictions until our vaccination programme has teeth in a much more fundamental way. That is not to undermine what has been done, which has been tremendous. In April, there will be great hope. I have noted at first hand the sense of hope that comes from vaccination, not only on the part of my elderly parents but also among friends whose good news we heard today.

The higher levels of restriction are manageable if we set targets on numbers. If we set out what we are aiming for, such as lower case numbers, a number to be vaccinated or a lower number in ICUs, and people see a progression towards it, it is a better target than a date or anything of that nature. No matter what decision is made and no matter what happens, including over Easter - I hope we have good news on the other side of Easter - I ask that no services to children with special needs or disability services, which I acknowledge are close to the Minister of State's heart and work, will be closed down again in the course of this pandemic.

Children's activities beyond sport need to be considered in a phased reopening. Not all children play sport; they also do drama and dance.These activities were possible last year in a marquee-type setting where there was full ventilation. Even with masks and proper social distancing, non-sporty children could be facilitated. That is important.

People in Dublin are looking at the Dublin Mountains. They are tantalisingly close but beyond the 5 km limit. Perhaps this matter could be considered. Click-and-collect services need to be resumed. What has happened is fundamentally unfair, as has been well articulated by my colleagues. We are about to change seasons. Children who have grown feet need to be fitted for shoes. Some of the practical issues in living with Covid need to be overcome. The Internet is not the answer to everything.

We need to consider publishing the number of vaccine doses that are expected to be delivered to the country, the number that are actually delivered and correlate the latter with the vaccine roll-out. In that context, the Government will be shown to have done a good job. We will expose truthfully and transparently where the gap has been.

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