Speaking ahead of a meeting with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other party leaders in Government Buildings, the Sinn Féin President also called for improved communication with the public to allay fears caused by misinformation being shared on social media.
Teachta McDonald said:
“We are conscious of the impact the current public health crisis is having on people’s lives.
“While we welcome yesterday’s decision to close all pubs and hotel bars, the government must now heed the Restaurants Association of Ireland to also close all restaurants and cafés before St Patrick’s Day.
“The ‘Pandemic Unemployment Payment’ announcement is welcome, but more needs to be done to support workers, families and businesses.
“We need rent support for private renters, we need a moratorium on all evictions, we need a mortgage repayments holiday and we need a freeze in utility bills and disconnections.
“We also need Irish Water and the ESB to discontinue all non-essential maintenance to ensure that everyone has running water and working electricity during this period of uncertainty.
“It is essential that we adopt an all-island approach to this crisis. The measures being introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19 will only work if they are in place on both sides of the border.
“I will be asking the Taoiseach to contact the British Prime minister on this issue as a matter of urgency.
“In 2001, we had an all-island approach to Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 to protect livestock. Now, it is people’s lives that are at stake and politicians must not fail them.
“We are a single population unit on this island and it is imperative that politicians north and south do our utmost to protect the health and lives of everyone who lives here.
“Finally, we also need to ramp up communication between the state and the public. Misinformation being spread through social media that is causing panic. Clarity and reassurance needs to be brought to the people.”