Waterford TD Matt Shanahan
Waterford TD Matt Shanahan and seven colleagues of the Regional Group of Independents are calling on Government for a "reset" of testing, tracing, vaccination and the issue of quarantine.
“Government needs to immediately improve their testing, tracing and vaccination strategy as well as implementing stringent levels of quarantine,' the Waterford TD says.
"There are currently three strands to the State’s Covid-19 response - testing, tracing and vaccination - but this is no longer enough. We urgently need to establish a fourth strand called quarantining."
The Regional Group of TDs want the Government to implement stricter rules on travellers arriving into the country. With the emergence of new strains of Covid-19 and the increased number of deaths, the Waterford TD says a ban on all non-essential travel to Ireland to reduce numbers needs to be implemented without further delay.
"The Citywest complex and the multiple empty hotels in Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Rosslare with thousands of staff on PUP should be used for mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals through the front door.
"Temporary border checkpoints within 5km of our land border are also needed. We need to turn back non-essential travellers to reduce numbers coming in the back door. In 2001, we did this for Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle. Surely protecting our people is more important," Deputy Shanahan questions.
"Airlines and shipping companies that transport passengers who do not have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours to Ireland should be fined.
"Regional Group members call on the Government yet again to bring clarity to their messaging. Continuous liaising with all stakeholders such as the gardaí, teachers, unions, businesses sectors and Oireachtas colleagues is essential in order to provide certainty and build support in the battle to protect lives and livelihoods."
Deputy Shanahan says the lack of clarity on the vaccine rollout is a "huge issue", as is the lack of information about projected delivery dates and quantities. "We accept that it is all hinging on supply, but we need to have a clear programme to demonstrate what is being done by Government," he says.
"It is time to use rapid antigen testing as another tool to fight against this terrible disease. These tests have provided a pathway to business sustainability by enabling safe Covid-19 free workplaces. Many industries such as manufacturing, dairy, logistics, garages, care homes and TV/Film are using them and ignoring Government advice as it’s not considered credible.
"The Regional Group note that the Government has continuously failed to efficiently plan, execute, evaluate and adapt their strategy to Covid-19 in a timely manner. Their continuous reactive approach demonstrates a failure to utilise available data, lack of innovation and thinking outside the box," the Waterford TD adds.