Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín, had said the escalating COVID-19 crisis is a “national emergency” and called on the Dáil to reconvene to ensure measures are taking to deal with the fallout. 

“In my view we need to be 100% honest with people. We have a history of withholding information from people. Adults are entitled to know what is at stake. There is a lack of realisation amongst many with regards how serious this will be,” the Aontú leader said.

“Medical experts believe that a large number of community transmitted cases will appear over the coming weeks. Our best hope of reducing its impact on life, health and society is to ramp up targeted capacity in the health service. To see what’s happening more clearly in real time testing for the virus must be ramped up. ICU and Ventilation services are nowhere near sufficient for even a fraction of the forecasted cases. I welcome the government’s lifting of restrictions in terms of the budget for the Health Service but they must start to quantify and timescale the delivery of desperately needed resources,” he said.

“Three weeks ago I was contacted by an Irish family who had been caught up abroad in the transmission of the illness. Although they had not caught the illness they had to self-isolate abroad for along period of time. The financial cost to this family with regards the lack of income was apparent 3 weeks ago. Yet they because there was no Dáil there was no opportunity to do my job and seek and legislative solution. While this may come down the line it is absolutely shocking that the Dáil and Committees are not functioning at this critical time”.

He said that “one month out from the election, in the face of such a crisis there is no government with a mandate. The care taker government has not and cannot take the bold decisions necessary to really go to war on this virus. This is a National Emergency and it demands that political parties put aside their individual political ambitions now and form a government now.”

“24 citizens of this state have the Coronavirus. The vast majority of these people either flew back from northern Italy or caught the virus from some one who flew back from Italy. Its clear that flights from affected areas is a major source of Coronavirus. Today flights landed in this state from the affected areas in northern Italy, despite these areas being under quarantine within Italy. There is no plan by this government to restrict these flights. This is a serious mistake. This issue will become more acute in the coming weeks as more concentrations and hotspots appear in more counties well connected to Ireland,” Deputy Tóibín said.

“Those who have contacted the virus in the last few days, contracted the virus in Ireland from people who did not self-isolate on return from northern Italy. This despite calls from many including ourselves for mandatory self-isolation for those returning from affected areas. This simple precautionary step was taken in other countries.

“The next most important objective for the government is time. If transmission happens too fast the Health Service will be swamped and many will not receive adequate care. If transmission is slowed down as best we can, a far higher proportion will receive the treatment they need. This may get us into the summer where there is a potential for transmission to slow. It could also allow time for a vaccine to be developed.”

“I believe we are not doing nearly enough to prevent and slow the spread of this virus. We must err on the side of caution,” he concluded.