Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara challenged Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on his plan to extend covid emergency legislation for a further three months.
He also took issue with a tweet from the Minister:
Today I’m asking the Oireachtas to extend emergency COVID-19 powers for three more months. Given the disease incidence is very high and rising, we must keep our guard up, including these powers. Those who oppose this extension are behaving recklessly. pic.twitter.com/O5Myp3Ntrm
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) November 2, 2021
Mr McNamara said:
“While looking at this debate in my office I noticed that there was a tweet a couple of minutes ago and indeed it was from your good self, the Minister for Health, saying that everybody who opposed this was reckless. With regard to being reckless, it was reckless to have such a disregard for Parliament and for the Dáil, not for me or Deputy Connolly, or any of the Deputies here, but for the people that we represent because it is the essence of democracy. One thing that Fianna Fáil always had, that party the Minister joined so late in the day, was a fairly healthy respect for parliamentary democracy.
“If the Minister wants to talk about recklessness, it is reckless to run down a health service the way our health service has been run down. The Minister did not run it down, but there are three members of the Cabinet in which he sits who had collective responsibility for running it down.
“The Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, when he was the Minister for Health, came up with the HSE as a way to spend money on reports. The Tánaiste, Deputy Leo Varadkar, when he was the Minister could not get out of there fast enough. The Minister, Deputy Simon Harris, caused a general election when he was the Minister for Health. We thought he was the most inept Minister for Health ever, or at least we were told that by some Fianna Fáil canvassers before the last election.
“That was reckless to run down a health service the way they did. It was reckless to fail to do anything about it when getting into office, which is what the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, has done. Where is the additional capacity that he spoke about and that he asked about when he was on the Covid committee? It is simply not there. Cholera hospitals were built in this city in response to a cholera outbreak. TB sanatoria were built all over the State in response to that. We had €23 billion. What was the €23 billion spent on apart from masks that are now clogging up our sewerage systems, which was junk that was brought in from China? What was the €23 billion spent on? We have nothing to show for it. Such a wanton waste of Exchequer funding is simply reckless.
“If the Minister wants to talk about recklessness, it is reckless to deny children the ability to play sports during a pandemic when they are locked up in their homes. It is reckless to tell them it is safe to sit in a classroom for six hours a day but not safe to play sports. It is reckless because of the effect it has on their formation and particularly on their mental health.
“This is the case with some children whose parents have come to me to complain about what is going on. It is reckless to fail to look at schools and their ventilation, and to spend €23 billion without remedying this. Last winter it was understandable because it was all new but we are heading into our second winter with nothing done. I put it to the Minister that this is reckless.
“Above all, it is reckless to fail to look at the science and to pretend that we are following the science but instead lurch from hysterical reaction to hysterical reaction. Let us look at the vaccines and let us look at their efficiency and efficacy. There are studies about this. Vaccines of course have stopped people from getting seriously ill, but now we know of waning immunity.
“We now know that how infectious somebody is, whether they are vaccinated or not, varies relatively little. We know that there is an enduring immunity from recovery. There are also question marks still about masks and about how small are the particles by which the virus is spread. Are they so small that masks do not capture them? If the Minister wants to talk about recklessness let us talk about it, but also have an honest reflection upon his role and how reckless he has been.”
Independent Wexford TD Verona Murphy also opposed the extension of emergency powers…
“I have had contact with many disgruntled constituents who are wondering why we did not open on 22 October as was planned. I share many of their concerns. There seems to be an attitude from the Government to try to extend its power with these restrictions under the guise of being precautionary, yet as soon as they are passed they are being used as a matter of course rather than as an emergency power.
“I also have another major concern which needs to be met head-on. Why are Government Members and policies being designed to scapegoat those who decided, for whatever reason, that they did not want, or could not take, the vaccine? We have the highest vaccination rates in Europe. I would like to commend all of the hard-working staff in all of the vaccination centres who have been very confident in their roll out of the vaccine programme. The constant scapegoating of the unvaccinated does not stand up to scrutiny or evidence and is completely unwarranted.
“Every time we see evidence of a failure in Government policy, the narrative shifts to find the latest random thing to blame it on. There has yet to be any evidence presented which shows that vaccine passports actually serve any purpose in preventing transmission. In fact, recent studies have shown that a vaccinated person is every bit as likely to transmit this virus as a non-vaccinated person. Therefore, why is the Government continuing to divide society on this basis? Some of the language used by Ministers…”
Mr Donnelly interjected:
“Deputies, that information is false and it is really important that Members of Parliament do not spread anti-vaccine information like this in the Chamber.”
“It is so damaging in terms of the anti-vaccine campaign.”
Ms Murphy continued:
There is nothing anti-vax about some of the constituents contacting me. They are contacting me and telling me they are unable to take a vaccine. It is stupid to tell people they can attend weddings without certificates…if the same people cannot then go out to a restaurant the next day because they are being labelled as unvaccinated.”
Transcripts via Oireachtas.ie
Last night: Three More Months
“Richard’s book, I haven’t read it, I won’t be reading it, the bits I’ve seen are quotes from anonymous sources, he never came back to check or get any response to them, the bits I’ve seen certainly don’t marry with my experience” – Stephen Donnelly about Richard Chambers’s book https://t.co/to2OkTtub2
— nwl (@nwl88444048) November 3, 2021