Rural Independent TDs say that “all sense of proportion and perspective is being lost due to government and NPHET’s contributions to deep uncertainty in already uncertain times.” 

Speaking ahead of an expected announcement  of a Level 4 lockdown later today, the Rural Independent Group strongly criticised the Government’s ongoing contradictory and disorganised media messaging, which they say has created panic and widespread fear of a more stringent nationwide lockdown for the second weekend in a row.

“We raised this issue after last week’s communications failure between the Government and NPHET created confusion and alarm. It now appears the Government has yet again failed to get a grip on this escalating situation,” they said in a statement.

Speaking from his Tipperary constituency office today, the Leader of the Rural Independent Group,” Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated:

“Irish people and businesses cannot continue to be treated with contempt while the Government and NPHET appear to operate with differing agendas. It appears one has lost confidence in the other and leaks  critical information to the media without due regard to the impact this will have. This is unacceptable and illustrates a complete disregard for the public during a pandemic.”

“NPHET are now, once again, recommending a move to level 5 restrictions. We know this because of further leaks to the media; however, the implication of such far reaching or enhanced measures would cripple the economy and cost thousands of jobs, while new research argues against a circuit breaker approach” said Deputy Mc Grath.

“Perhaps the most worrying part of the NPHET recommendation to move the country to an effective full lockdown, is that the modelling is based almost exclusively on the growing infection numbers,  and the complete lack of HSE ICU bed capacity, without sufficient acknowledgement that the death rate of the virus is now at its lowest, according to the European Centre for Disease Control. In fact, Ireland has a much lower Covid death rate than most other European jurisdictions. Clearly, NPHET are not taking this into consideration and are overly concerned with protecting a malfunctional health system.”

“The Government had over six months to implement a comprehensive plan to address the ICU bed capacity and staff shortage, but we now know that they have failed miserably. It is completely incomprehensible and unforgivable that the new Government has failed to increase hospital capacity at a time of crisis,” said Deputy Mc Grath

“Unfortunately, the Government’s inaction is now putting lives at risk and forcing the NPHET recommendations to be actualised. Therefore, the Government should tell people the truth and be upfront about its failures to introduce additional capacity into our health system.

Deputy Mc Grath concluded by saying: “The Oxford Covid 2020 tracker indicates that Ireland already has the most stringent Covid government restrictions. Any new more stringent restrictions, due to government failures, will have widespread collateral damage in terms of mental health, lack of access to other essential health services, further job losses and the outright destruction of lives and livelihoods by an effective level 5 lockdown. This will have immeasurable medium and longer-term consequences for society, health and jobs.”