Travel restrictions to remain for 'foreseeable' future, says Housing Minister

Travel Restrictions To Remain For 'Foreseeable' Future, Says Housing Minister
Dublin Airport.
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Muireann Duffy

Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke.

Ireland's tightened travel restrictions are likely to remain in place for the "foreseeable future" according to the Minister for Housing, Darragh O'Brien.

Suppressing the virus was the first priority, Mr O'Brien said and therefore measures would have to remain in place until it was safe to resume international travel.

According to the Irish Examiner, Mr O'Brien referred to the country's current travel restrictions as "extremely strict" but necessary as the country works to vaccinate the population.

The Minister also defended the Government's approach to vaccination and the mandatory quarantine measures, saying the country was well-prepared.

Mr O'Brien said the vaccination programme had to be nimble and agile to respond to changes, while mandatory quarantine was a complex issue the Government was taking seriously.

As part of the tightened restrictions around internation travel, Mr O'Brien said it was likely there could be some strengthening of quarantine measures, but it was not particularly easy to “click fingers and close borders.”

Vaccine supplies


When asked about comments by Sinn Féin leader May Lou McDonald, in which she called on the Government to ask the UK to send any left-over vaccines to Ireland, Mr O’Brien said: “I’m not sure where Mary Lou was going with that.”

The current programme was working well “and that’s what we should focus on.”

Mr O’Brien said he wasn’t ruling anything out that would lead to the speedy roll out of the vaccination programme.

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“People like Mary Lou use any opportunity to criticise.”

As for suggestions that growing numbers within the Fianna Fáil party would consider going into coalition with Sinn Féin, the Minister said that the next general election was four years away and that “things evolve.”

The focus now had to be on addressing the immediate issues such as health and housing, he added.

There were policy areas where Sinn Féin tended to “pick figures out of the sky” which was not responsible, Mr O'Brien said.

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