Several TDs have reacted negatively to the government’s decision to extend their Covid powers for a further 3 months, with some dubbing it “reckless,” “radical” and “undemocratic.”
The comments came after Fianna Fail Health Minister Stephen Donnelly alluded to the fact that the extension of powers may not be temporary, drawing harsh blowback in the Dáil.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has hinted that the “exceptional” emergency Covid powers seized by the government may not be temporary, as the government votes to extend them until January.#gripthttps://t.co/wGjQjtpq76
— gript (@griptmedia) October 6, 2021
Critics of the move included Aontú leader Peadar Toibín.
“The extension of these radical and draconian restrictions is wrong but it also shows the Government and the Opposition have learned nothing with regard to this,” he said.
“We need a full, independent and public investigation into the Government’s handling of Covid over these past two years.”
Mattie McGrath, leader of the Rural Independent Group, questioned Minister Stephen Donnelly further.
“Were the organisations representing the restaurateurs and publicans consulted about this extension?” he asked.
“Was An Garda Síochána consulted? Where did the date of 22 October for the reopening of everything come from and where did it go? Why are we extending this legislation for a further three months?”
Michael Collins TD said that politicians were “acting in a reckless and undemocratic manner if we approve this motion.”
Michael Healy-Rae said that he would not support an extension of the powers, saying “I do not think the people of Ireland would agree with it.”
He continued: “The majority of deputies in here, including my colleagues on this side of the House, are saying the same thing, namely that enough is enough.
“The people want to be allowed to continue and be responsible for themselves, and I rely on the people who elected us. They are the people I trust. They are the people I want to ensure will be in charge of their own destiny.”
Meanwhile, Danny Healy-Rae said: “We extended [the powers] in the middle of the summer although I was against doing that at the time. However, it looked like that was going to be the one and only extension but here is the Minister again, barefaced and looking for another extension.
“I can tell him that I am not voting for it because there is no exceptional need now and no emergency at the present time.”
Leas Ceann Comharile Catherine Connolly, who previously said that the Covid passport issue had made her lose faith in the democratic system in Ireland, also slammed the legislation.
— gript (@griptmedia) July 19, 2021
“I will not be supporting this legislation,” she said.
“I did not support it initially. The only emergency legislation I supported was back in March of last year.
“The government built in discrimination on the basis of health for the first time ever in Irish law. The government built discrimination into the law on the basis of a person’s health status. Discrimination was built in on every level.”
Deputy Michael McNamara said he was “suspicious” of the legislation and that he vehemently opposed it.
“I opposed this legislation when it was introduced in July and I am opposing it being rolled over again,” he said.
“In July, I predicted that it would be rolled over. Many government geputies said they found it unpalatable and they were concerned by it, but that it was for a limited period of time, so they would accept it. Now, they are accepting it because, well, it is a power that will not be used.
“I am suspicious of powers that will not be used being placed in the hands of civil servants or pliable Ministers who do whatever their civil servants want.”