‘Sources of outbreaks remain untouched’ – McGrath criticises new restrictions

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised the latest restrictions introduced to curtail the spread of Covid-19, describing them as “absolutely illogical”.

Deputy McGrath said he believes there should be a “recall of Dáil Éireann from its summer recess to deal with the total and utter confusion” over the restrictions that were announced yesterday (Tuesday, August 18).

“We have moved back to a situation where essential freedoms have been restricted, while the sources of the outbreaks and clusters remain open and untouched,” he said.

There has been little or no mention of dealing with the reasons for these outbreaks.

“We have also moved to a situation where we can attend a wedding with possible strangers but can only have six in our home at a time when we are due to send our children back to school next week.

“We can have only 15 at training but 30 can play on the same pitch for a match while we can’t have spectators.

“Many of these new restrictions make little or no sense and are causing real frustration and anger amongst the public.”

‘Almost 2 months since we had any engagement’

Deputy McGrath also raised serious concerns over “giving the Gardaí increased powers to restrict freedoms without debate and scrutiny”.

He said: “During the initial restrictions there was weekly cross-party engagement with NPHET [National Public Health Emergency Team].

“However, it has been almost two months since we have had any engagement with NPHET.

We cannot justify removing our essential freedoms endlessly, particularly without debate. It is totally unacceptable that these measures would be introduced at a time when the government is on holidays.

“If the matter is so serious to limit our freedoms, then the Dáil must be recalled to have a full and open debate and to provide clarity on the matter,” deputy McGrath concluded.

‘Fear they will be put behind the door again’

Meanwhile, on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, Active Retirement Ireland said that the advice issued on avoiding public transport when possible is going to be an issue, particularly in rural Ireland.

“Older people need the transport to get to the shops, the doctor and hospital appointments. [They] have to use public transport to do the essentials,” said Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland.

“For them to have to cut back on their social interactions, cut back on their networks and basically remove themselves from society again in a limited way brings on a fear; fear that they will be put behind the door again and that no lessons will be learned from the previous lockdown.”