The Taoiseach’s decision not to rule out this year’s White House St. Patrick’s Day trip is incomprehensible and represents a classic case of self-preservation during a global pandemic, according to Deputy Mattie Mc Grath.

The Rural Independent TD described the decision to “plough ahead” with the trip to the White House as “completely irresponsible”.

“The decision by the Taoiseach and the government to plough ahead with the 2021 St. Patrick’s Day White House trip is completely irresponsible, as a global pandemic runs riot. It is essentially a case of – do as I say – not as I do – as the government confine the freedoms of Irish citizens, while planning a lavish and contradictory trip themselves,” he said.

“Such a trip would send out the completely wrong message and risk undermining the hard work of our healthcare and frontline workers at home.”

“Instead, it would be much better for the Taoiseach and his government to be transparent with the public, end the constant spin and inform people of the true scale of this pandemic, including its length and ultimate cost to the taxpayer. The ongoing short-term and knee-jerk reactionary approach of this government, witnessed once again today, is putting everyone at risk and causing irreparable long-term harm. The government’s disjointed approach is sucking the morale from every community.”

“The magnitude of mixed and contradictory messaging by this government is the worst experienced by any Irish government in history, at a time when the Irish people deserve so much better. The decision by the Taoiseach and his government to proceed with a St. Patrick’s Day trip, in the midst of this crisis, represents more of the misplaced approach.”

“Most parents and children are left to work or learn from home, using various technological platforms and juggling various competing tasks. Thus, if the Irish government are so anxious to proceed with meeting the new US President, that it could be done in an online capacity instead.”

“Therefore, I am calling for the Taoiseach and government to cancel the 2021 St. Patrick’s Day trip to Washington. To travel to the US on an official visit, at this time, would be reckless.”

“Instead, this government must get their act together at home. Again, we call on the government to implement a comprehensive mandatory quarantine system for all inbound travellers, arriving from all over the world into Irish ports and airports. We also call on the government to take a more constructive role in co-operating with the Executive in the North. The constant spin and “one-upmanship” by the government is having a detrimental impact. This has been highlighted in glaring form yesterday, through a stark rebuke of the spin coming from our government, by the Northern Executive. It is worrying to now learn that the lack of North-South Covid strategy appears to lie firmly at the door of our government. This must be urgently clarified publicly by the Taoiseach.”

“Perhaps the Taoiseach should try to repair relationships and implement adequate Covid strategies on our island, rather than heading off to the States to rub shoulders with the new US President. After all, true leadership should always begin at home.”

“The failure of the Irish government to get their act together is undoubtedly leading to higher illness levels from Covid and much longer, harsher and ongoing lockdowns. We need to keep the pandemic out of Ireland and dramatically eliminate the infection rate. The government’s ongoing disjointed approach continues to put our health services and economy at further risk,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.