Independent TD Mattie McGrath makes a passionate contribution to a debate on the final report of the Michael McNamara-chaired Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly’s absence during the speech was noted by Deputy McGrath.
“The Minister for Health said in his contribution at the start of this debate:
‘Our numbers have increased in the past week … but right now we still have the third lowest rate of Covid per 100,000 population anywhere in Europe.’
Why then is there all this fuss? We have to consider the other health issues people are dealing with, including mental health problems. I am glad the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health is in the Chamber. There is not a mental health bed to be had in Tipperary. People cannot access a long-stay bed anywhere.
We must ask why the Minister did not stay in the Chamber to hear what we have to say. Has he got something against us? He was with us when he was in opposition, challenging the then Taoiseach and the then Minister for Health.
Now he is on the other side of the House, poacher become gamekeeper, and he has no interest in what we have to say. He is showing total disrespect for us and for the House.
Why must we have such a disproportionate response to the Covid pandemic? It is a serious issue and a single death is one too many. However, I do not trust the figures and I do not trust the PCR tests, and my concerns in that regard have been proven.
The Government will not let any of the scientists or medics with a contrary view within an ass’s roar of the discussions. We have a controlled Opposition, a controlled media and a controlled everything else. It is time we let the people of Ireland live.
We in this House are fine because we are getting our wages the same as we always did, as are other public servants. What about the unfortunate self-employed people? What about the unfortunate people aged over 66 who are not able to live and do not have a penny?
What about the small and medium-sized businesses, as Deputy McNamara and others referred to, that are not getting anything? The lifeblood is being squeezed out of them and they cannot get any bit of solace at all. We need to have balance in our approach instead of this disproportionate impact on people.
Of course we must live with the virus. We are hoping for vaccines but, as other speakers said, I expect we will be waiting. There are games being played by the big pharmaceutical companies, with the talk of being 95% ready or 95.5% ready. It is a big game about who will be first over the line with the magic bullet.
That magic bullet will not be what the Government seems to think it can be. The people of Ireland are depressed and downtrodden, with no bit of hope at all coming into Christmas. People are wondering whether shops and other places will be open or closed. Ordinary people want to get out and work. One would think there is no end to the money the Government can throw out for different supports.
The HSE is, and has been, dysfunctional. I am disappointed with [Fine Gael] Deputy [Fergus] O’Dowd for singling out two particular nursing homes. What about the HSE disasters? Who put the patients with Covid into the nursing homes but the HSE? It was not fit to manage this or any crisis. We see what is happening with the children’s hospital at this time. It is an abomination and it is scandalous. I have no faith in the Minister for Health. It is nothing personal but I have no faith in him or the HSE, who are a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
The Minister told us in the Convention Centre that if he was an outsider, he would still be objecting and looking for answers, but he will not give any answers now that he is on the other side of the House. I am fierce disappointed with the way he is treating this House. No matter what debate he is taking, he is flying away from us like snow off a ditch in case we challenge him. It is shameful.”
Full debate here