The Rural Independents have accused the government of being “haphazard” in its approach to Covid-19 testing for incoming travellers saying it represents “a knee-jerk half-baked plan”. 

Reacting to the announcement the leader of the Rural Independents, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath stated: “We are pleased to hear that the government have finally taken the advice of the rural independents and others, looking at implementing testing protocols for international travellers returning to Ireland. However, the lack of details around this announcement is causing panic among Irish citizens currently abroad.”

“The government has had months to implement a system and last evening put forward a haphazard announcement that is a response to headlines rather than an actual thoughtful and transparent plan. Irish citizens deserve better,” he said.

“The fact that the government here did not coordinate with their counterparts in the North, to ensure a universal island-wide arrival requirement, completely defies logic. It will likely mean that more incoming passengers will simply now avail of flights into Belfast and Derry airports instead, before entering the republic.”

The Rural Independents called on the government to “immediately provide the following information to the public”:

  • Was a coordinated effort made to ensure all airports on the island of Ireland was included in a co-operative approach?
  • If Irish citizens who are currently abroad will be required to obtain PCR tests prior to their return, what provisions will be made for those citizens who are currently in jurisdictions where PCR testing is not easily accessible?
  • What type of certification regarding PCR testing will be required, given that testing standards can vary depending on the provider and type of test, and why are airlines being made to take responsibility for managing this requirement?
  • Why is this a better option than testing upon arrival at Irish airports by regulated Irish officials with ease of certification?
  • Does the government expect enforcement to be carried out by airlines through denying boarding to Irish citizens?
  • Is the government expecting airlines to play a major role in this system. Did the government even consult any airlines about their capacity to implement this, and on what timeline?
  • Where can Irish citizens currently abroad get information on this new requirement? Will the government be providing a portal, or will this responsibility also be downloaded onto already strapped airlines?

“Our offices have already been receiving inquiries this morning from panicked travellers abroad on this new requirement. Further specific details are immediately needed to avoid causing confusion for any Irish citizens, while also protecting public health.”

“The government has had months to get their act together on this front, and this detail-free announcement is irresponsible. We will continue to push for these needed answers to ensure clarity in the government’s COVID-19 response, concluded Deputy Mc Grath.