October 7, 2020
Lack of airport testing could see Ireland unable to fully participate in EU traffic light system – Darren O’Rourke TD

Darren O RourkeSinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke has said that government inaction is suffocating the aviation industry here and will mean that Ireland is unlikely to be able to fully participate in the EU-wide approach to foreign travel that is to be announced later this month. 

Speaking today after a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, the Meath East TD highlighted the lack of progress in the area of airport testing, and the consequences this could have.

Teachta O’Rourke said: “The briefing we got today from Ministers Ryan and Naughton could have been given back in May as practically nothing has been done by the government since then to help the aviation sector here.

“The government’s green list has been a total failure to date. Its fuddled implementation hasn’t helped the aviation sector at all.

“Instead, it has caused widespread public confusion and ridicule when people were told they could fly to places like Greenland and Monaco.

“We are now approaching the introduction of an EU-wide ‘traffic light system’ for travel, but this cannot work as intended here if we do not have testing capabilities in our airports.

“The airport authorities told us today they have brought forward rapid testing proposals. The DAA told the committee that they have a plan which could see 15,000 tests a day in their airports, without impacting our public health system.

“It seems, however, that the blockage is in the Department of Transport.

“The ministers had little to no information on what type of system the government is considering, which is extremely worrying given they have had months to prepare while in the same period other European airports have already introduced testing for high risk arrivals.

“If we don’t have rapid testing facilities in our airports, this could mean we can’t participate fully in the EU traffic light system, which is likely to see quarantine replaced with testing on arrival for those travelling from red-listed countries.

“The traffic light system is something Sinn Féin raised at the Oireachtas Covid Committee at the beginning of June. It’s not a new idea at this stage and to think the Minister is still pondering the idea is baffling.

“Done correctly, the EU approach can be an opportunity to restart European travel in a safe manner, obviously subject to the trajectory of the virus.

“Instead, government dithering on testing could mean we can’t fully participate, with the aviation sector here continuing to deteriorate as a result.”

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