Opposition parties in push for aggressive new approach to Covid-19

Opposition Parties In Push For Aggressive New Approach To Covid-19 Opposition Parties In Push For Aggressive New Approach To Covid-19
Alan Kelly, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By James Ward, PA

Harsher fines for international travel, stricter quarantine controls and serial testing of healthcare workers should all form part of a new aggressive strategy to tackle Covid-19, the Dáil has heard.

Opposition parties were strongly critical of Government proposals to begin reopening society over the coming months during a debate on a Labour party motion on a National Aggressive Suppression Strategy.

Described as “Zero Covid by another name” by Labour leader Alan Kelly, the motion has cross-party support among the Opposition, being backed by Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit/Solidarity.

Mr Kelly told the Dáil: “We want to suppress the virus and basically ensure that we get it down so low, to double digits, that we can give Ireland the chance that 2021 would be different from 2020, because the people are at the end of their tether and they need it.”


Mr Kelly said that community transmission of the virus has to be eliminated if the country is to avoid “Lockdown Four”.

He said that mandatory quarantine needs to be introduced “across the board” for international arrivals.

“Fundamentally, we need to ensure that people who come in are quarantined, that they have PCR tests on arrival, five days later and later on, then they can move on,” he said.

“As regards people who are going to airports. What is the point in saying, we fine you 500 euros, and then wish you the best for your trip? This is driving people insane.”

He added: “We also need to ensure that we have serial testing in healthcare settings in particular, and that we have checks within five kilometres from the border on all major routes, and a significant amount of checks on all minor routes.”

Mr Kelly said too many people are not working from home where it is possible for them to do so, and this must be tackled.

Healthcare workers should be given a one-off payment of 1,000 euro, he said.

Labour TD Ged Nash said the Government’s Living with Covid plan — intended to be revised in two weeks’ time — is now redundant. He said the Government should have no shame in standing it down.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who talked up the reopening of society over the summer at a press conference on Tuesday, was dubbed “The Minister for Beer Gardens” by Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

He said the Tánaiste was “talking about potentially reopening, of family gatherings and of industry potentially reopening, and nowhere, recognising the fact that we are in the teeth of a body count”.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the Labour motion contains ‘many very good ideas’ which are being considered by Government (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane said the “kite flying” by the Tánaiste on Tuesday was “an absolute disgrace” and accused him of “pushing back against public health advice”.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shorthall said called on political leaders to show courage.

She said proposals to reopen certain sectors was “fantasy stuff” and that only a “Zero Covid” approach could prevent “rolling lockdowns until the end of the year”.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the Labour motion contained “many very, very good ideas, many of which are in line with approaches being taken or being considered by Government at the moment.”

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