The ‘crimes’ in Irish society – which includes the housing crisis, mixed messages on foreign travel and the reliance on cheap food at the expense of workers’ rights – are now coming home to roost because of Covid-19, according to a Dundalk TD.
Ruairí Ó Murchú said the ‘perfect storm’ is brewing now as ‘all the crimes and injustices in society are being laid bare by this ongoing Covid-19 crisis’.
The Sinn Féin deputy said: ‘It seems like we are being made pay for every weakness that we have in the economy and which we knew about already, because of this crisis.
‘We were aware of the pressure that family farmers are under, how the meat industry has been less than considerate of workers’ rights and how, because of the housing crisis, workers are living in cramped and overcrowded conditions.
‘Immediately, there is a need to get the very basics rights – test, trace and isolate – and to give clear, unambiguous advice about foreign travel.
‘There clearly needs to be more unannounced inspections of workplaces by the Health and Safety Authority and in order to do this, they need to ensure there are sufficient inspectors.
‘We have been aware of the pinch points for a long time: but the difficulties continue, particularly with test results for nursing homes, which I have asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly about, and about which I have not received reassurance from his office.
‘I have also raised with him the necessity for the robust test, trace and isolate procedures in order to ensure that schools are able to open on time and stay open.
‘We need to make sure that we have the capacity and protocols to test, trace and isolate cases in all at risk sectors – from meat factories to nursing homes and schools.
‘And we have the ludicrous situation where we have overcrowded classrooms in some schools in Louth, while at Rampark NS, which I visited with Cllr. Antóin Watters last week, there will be an empty classroom because they fall slightly short of the required level of pupils for additional teachers.
‘There is a clear need for the ‘wet pubs’ to be supported and be given grant aid by the government of either €12,000 or €25,000 depending on their size.
‘Overall, there is an urgent need for a real conversation about how we are we are going to forwards in the long term as we live with Covid-19, rather than backwards.’