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TDs: Govt’s handling of Covid a “danger to our democracy”

Numerous TDs have slammed the government for extending their emergency Covid powers, with the Leas-Cheann Comhairle dubbing the government’s handling of Covid an “utter danger to our democracy,” adding “We are not all in this together.”

Independent TD Verona Murphy called on the government to stop “scapegoating” and “ostracising” the unvaccinated for the country’s problems, and called into question the efficacy of the vaccine passport system.

NO EVIDENCE VACCINE CERT WORKS – VERONA MURPHY TD

“Every time we see evidence of a failure in government policy, the narrative shifts to find the latest random thing to blame it on,” she said.

“There has yet to be any evidence presented which shows that vaccine passports actually serve any purpose in preventing transmission. In fact, recent studies have shown that a vaccinated person is every bit as likely to transmit this virus as a non-vaccinated person. Therefore, why is the Government continuing to divide society on this basis?”

STEPHEN DONNELLY ACCUSES VERONA MURPHY OF BEING ANTI-VAXX

After a heated exchange in which Donnelly accused Murphy of being anti-vaxx – a charge which she contested strongly – she ultimately concluded:

“I hope the government will take back the message that it needs to stop blaming, scapegoating, ostracising and discriminating against those who are not vaccinated. I do not think history will look back kindly on some of the distasteful comments made last week, but I hope we can put in place an armoury of supports for our vaccination programme. The fact is that we have the highest vaccination rates in Europe.”

GOVT’S BEHAVIOUR AN “UTTER THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY”

Additionally, independent TD and Leas-Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly was harshly critical of the extension of the government’s powers.

“We are being asked to extend draconian legislation without the slightest justification in the Minister’s response as to why, without any human rights assessment and without any explanation of the contradictions,” she said.

GOVT POLICIES “FRIGHTENING,” TRYING TO “DIVIDE & CONQUER”

“I would also like to stick with the utter danger there is to our democracy in the way the government is dealing with this pandemic. We are certainly not all in it together. It is discriminatory and unacceptable, and it frightens me almost as much as the pandemic has frightened me, in terms of trying to protect people.

“…I am absolutely dispirited about the twisting of language and the divide and conquer aspect. There is a demonisation rather than building up a public health system to face this pandemic and the next one, which is inevitable. There is a failure of the government to clarify what improvements have been made or to take responsibility for the damning situation that has existed in our hospitals, and which continues to exist, as well as no public health on the ground.”

GOVT HAS CURTAILED FREEDOMS IN AN “EXTRAORDINARY” WAY

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae called on the government to restore people’s “individual freedoms.”

“The public interest is not being served by giving the government the powers to curtail people’s rights and freedoms at a time when over 90% of our people are vaccinated,” he said.

“During this pandemic the government has rushed some extraordinary laws through this House and signed into law some extraordinary regulations. These measures have curtailed people’s freedoms in a most extraordinary way. The Garda has been given the power to do things we would never have thought it would be given. We believe that now the time has come to have people’s individual freedoms restored and Garda powers returned to what they should be.”

He added: “The government has also failed to increase Ireland’s ICU bed capacity.”

SPORT “THROWN INTO MAYHEM”

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae described what he called “mayhem” that had been caused by reports of children under-12 being denied access to sports unless they produce a vaccine pass.

“Volunteers are being asked to demand that youngsters attending events produce vaccine passports,” he said.

“We have to remember that under-12s have not been vaccinated at all yet. It is very unfair. The whole basketball season has been thrown into mayhem, and I ask the Minister and the government to deal with this in an honourable way. It is not fair to ask volunteers to demand vaccine passports of youngsters before they are allowed in to play basketball.”

GOVT “RECKLESSLY” RAN DOWN THE HEALTH SERVICE

Deputy Michael McNamara countered Minister Stephen Donnelly’s claims that those opposing the power extension were “reckless,” instead arguing that it was the government who had been reckless.

“If the Minister wants to talk about recklessness, it is reckless to run down a health service the way our health service has been run down,” he said.

“The Minister did not run it down, but there are three members of the Cabinet in which he sits who had collective responsibility for running it down.

“WE THOUGHT SIMON HARRIS WAS THE MOST INEPT MINISTER FOR HEALTH”

“The Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, when he was the Minister for Health, came up with the HSE as a way to spend money on reports. The Tánaiste, Deputy Leo Varadkar, when he was the Minister could not get out of there fast enough. The Minister, Deputy Simon Harris, caused a general election when he was the Minister for Health.

“We thought he was the most inept Minister for Health ever, or at least we were told that by some Fianna Fáil canvassers before the last election. That was reckless to run down a health service the way they did. It was reckless to fail to do anything about it when getting into office, which is what the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, has done.

“WHERE IS THE ADDITIONAL ICU CAPACITY?”

“Where is the additional capacity that he spoke about and that he asked about when he was on the Covid committee? It is simply not there.

“Cholera hospitals were built in this city in response to a cholera outbreak. TB sanatoria were built all over the State in response to that. We had €23 billion. What was the €23 billion spent on apart from masks that are now clogging up our sewerage systems, which was junk that was brought in from China? What was the €23 billion spent on? We have nothing to show for it. Such a wanton waste of Exchequer funding is simply reckless.”

He concluded: “If the Minister wants to talk about recklessness let us talk about it, but also have an honest reflection upon his role and how reckless he has been.”

POWER EXTENSION WILL IMPACT “FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS”

Finally, Deputy Michael Collins stated that the extension of powers would “gravely impact” the fundamental civil rights of Irish citizens.

“The extension of these extraordinary powers for a further three months will impact gravely the normal conduct of life in society,” he said.

“It will also impact the fundamental civil rights of every citizen in 2022, with no guarantee the government will not move to introduce new laws at that stage to extend the curtailment even further.”

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