The Government must work constructively with the health authorities and across the political system to get the country back on track in suppressing Covid-19, according to the Social Democrats.
Co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:
“Yesterday was a bad day for the country. In the midst of a growing pandemic, it is very unfortunate that we still don’t have clear public health messaging around what we all need to do to try to suppress the virus.
“Last night’s attack by the Tánaiste on NPHET and Dr Tony Holohan in particular was unwarranted and unhelpful. It served as a serious distraction from the task in hand, which is to encourage us to work together. Today, the Government needs to get back on track in terms of focusing on what we need to do to protect our lives and livelihoods.
“We support the principle that NPHET advises and the Government decides. And although the Government has a wider range of issues to take into consideration, public health must be the dominant one.
“Yesterday, we took the opportunity before the Cabinet meeting to write to the Taoiseach and set out nine actions which we feel should be taken. We continue to have serious concerns about the absence of a clear strategy being pursued by Government in areas such as testing and tracing and foreign travel. They have come up with different plans but there is no overriding strategy – it is simply a framework.
“There needs to be a united front. We all need to be working together in solidarity but that needs to start at the top. The Government must work constructively with the health authorities and across the political system. Unless it does, we will continue to have a fracturing of the public health messaging.”
Co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said:
“You can’t deal with this virus without public good will so the messaging has to make sense to people. There’s a variation of infection rates across the country but there is no variation in the response.
“When the five-level plan was put in place, there was a reasonable expectation that it would vary depending on local Covid-19 rates but this is not what is happening.
“Tracing is a key component in suppressing this virus. If we don’t know where the virus is originating, we can’t chase it – so the tracing aspect is every bit as important as the testing.
“We also need to have a plan which recognises that not just public health, but economics and other elements of society, have to be factored when we move from one level to the next. For instance, people need to understand what’s going to happen in relation to financial and other supports that will be available if we move up a level. The whole stop-start approach to restrictions has been very damaging.
“This is about public health first and foremost. However, the entire country going to Level 5 would have been problematic and the Government would have found it difficult to bring the public with them – and you can’t win this without the public.”
October 6, 2020