Friday, 30 April 2021
Business and Covid-19: Statements
I thank my two colleagues for giving me time. I welcome the Tánaiste to the Chamber. I welcome yesterday's announcement of the reopening of the country. The Government had committed to this and I am glad that the path ahead is clear and realistic. I thank the Tánaiste for his leadership throughout the pandemic since March 2020. That point is made to me daily in my home county of Longford. Everyone in the country has worked hard and made sacrifices since March 2020, but brighter days are ahead.
Millions of our children are back at school. Our young people returned to playing sport this week, so today is a good day. My nine-year-old returned to playing hurling on Wednesday. I have to get home this evening, as he has GAA training. My four-year-old has his first training session with the local GAA club tomorrow morning. We are starting them at that age now in Longford to see if we can catch up with Dublin, which has moved so far ahead in Leinster.
I believe the key to our recovery is our vaccination programme, which is progressing well. We need to ensure every effort is made that every vaccine received is administered as quickly as possible and that we communicate that correctly to the public. The plan laid out last night will see many thousands of people return to work in what has been a difficult time for businesses and workers. We are told the current business supports will remain in place in their current form until the end of June. However, we need to continue these supports until our economy is fully up and running. More important, we need to do everything we can to ensure that when we open our economy, it stays open.
We must also spare a thought today for those who will not have jobs to return to. Some businesses will not reopen and we need to ensure that we have supports for these workers and businesses. As we look forward to the summer months, we need to see a return of tourists, both domestic and international travellers. It is imperative that we ensure the continued survival of our aviation and hospitality sectors. I welcome the EU Covid-19 certificate allowing our citizens to travel freely and, hopefully, this will be a timely boost to our tourism and hospitality industry. As my party's tourism spokesman, I join other colleagues in asking that the outdoor dining scheme be amended to an outdoor enhancement scheme, to allow all eligible hospitality businesses to apply.
On a sporting level, my local Parkrun committee has asked me to raise an issue. I ask that Parkrun committees, which are successful in towns and villages throughout the country, be given a definitive date for when they can open. As my party's media spokesperson, I concur with Senator Cassells that some support mechanism needs to be put in place for local media, as has been done for local radio.
I will finish by saying that County Longford is open for business. I ask people to support those businesses that are reopening after such a difficult period.