Darragh O'Brien plays down rift between health authorities and government over air travel advice

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien denied there were differences in opinion between the government and health authorities over air travel advice in Ireland.
By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has denied there are differences between health chiefs and the new government over air travel advice and fears about Covid-19 spreading.

He was commenting as the new coalition continues to assess 'air bridges' between countries with similar control levels of the virus.

But on Monday, chief medical officer Tony Holohan warned people about travelling abroad and suggested they should cancel any bookings.

The issue was a “concern”, Mr O'Brien told Newstalk, but the government respected Mr Holohan and would “take his advice on board."

The new coalition is assessing a 'green list' of countries, where passengers and travellers can visit and return without having to quarantine.

However, levels of the virus are fluctuating across EU countries, including in states such as Portugal, Mr O'Brien explained.

Nonetheless, he also noted the huge number of job losses in the airline industry and its value to the economy. He said Dublin airport employed 20,000 people and 150,000 indirectly.

He said the government's job was to “protect those jobs” and ensure the airline sector recovered.

However, he denied there was a disagreement with the CMO and others over the position.

“I genuinely don't think so...we take his advice very seriously.” he said.