Cavan-Monaghan TD Pauline Tully has branded the proposal by the Government to extend the Covid-19 emergency measures by a further six months as excessive. The Sinn Féin TD described the proposition of blanket extension of the restrictions as unnecessary.
Teachta Tully said:
“I oppose the continuation of these emergency measures for the proposed six months.
“I feel that time is excessive given that a sizeable proportion of the population is now being vaccinated, including the older cohort and those deemed vulnerable to the disease.
“In fact, the majority of people contracting Covid-19 now are those in the younger age groups and, for the most part, are not experiencing significant health implications. Many have no symptoms whatsoever.
“While I am not suggesting that all restrictions be dropped or removed, I do not see the necessity of extending these provisions for six months.
“These measures need to be reviewed and discussed monthly, perhaps, and restrictions removed as they are no longer needed.
“In common with most people, I recognise that restrictions were needed to prevent the spread of the disease and death or serious illness befalling the more vulnerable members of our society. That was especially the case when we did not know much about the disease.
“It was also to control the numbers needing to attend hospitals.
“Thankfully, those numbers are now low. Society is opening again, albeit slowly, and we must continue this process and see things return to normal as quickly as possible, obviously in a safe way.
“While encouraging people to continue with social distancing, washing their hands and avoiding crowds etc., businesses must be allowed to reopen.
“People must be allowed to mix again, and that is essential for the mental well-being of our people, whether in the workforce or through sport or social activity.
“I live in a Border area and that has meant that the faster reopening of society in the North has had an impact on many businesses and activities in the Border counties.
“I am also concerned about the ever-growing waiting list for hospital appointments and especially for further diagnosis of possible cancer symptoms.
“A woman I know noticed a lump in her breast and she was referred to the Breast Check clinic in a hospital in Dublin by her GP. Her file was marked urgent.
“Four weeks later, that woman has still not been called for an appointment and when she followed up on this situation, she was told that she would be waiting for another 14 to 16 weeks, on top of the time she had been waiting already.
“I am hearing reports that the waiting list for appointments for urgent cancer checks is now extending to about three to four months, whereas it normally would have been within one month.
“We all know that early diagnosis regarding possible cases of cancer is vital.
“Are provisions being made to deal with the backlog of people awaiting further checks for cancer symptoms?
“People in all walks of life need a clear timeline for the reopening of society. People have had enough at this stage and their mental health is suffering.
“Public waiting lists for hospital appointments are growing, and businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, are also suffering.
“Emergency payments must be extended until society has fully reopened.
“I call on the Government to ensure that the short-time work support payment is extended for workers in industries which are still unable to reopen fully due to ongoing public health restrictions. Many employees have been placed on reduced hours due to the impact of Covid-19 and as a result have been receiving this benefit.
“However, I think it may be coming to an end, with no indication of it being continued. Therefore, something needs to be done to protect those workers. They cannot be allowed to just work those short-time hours without the benefit of the payment.
“A blanket extension of these restrictions is not necessary and especially not for six months. These measures must be reviewed and then extended, with only those absolutely necessary remaining.
“The Dáil should be allowed to debate these measures and vote on them in future.”