21 October 2020
By Tom Collins
Speaking today, Thomas Gould, Sinn Fein TD for Cork North Central, has called on NPHET to brief all TDs on specific aspects of the public health advice and allow time for questions and concerns to be raised.
Deputy Gould said:
“I have been contacted by a lot of people who are really confused about closures of certain facilities such as gyms under the current restrictions. I am equally confused and have written to the Minister for Health today seeking an urgent questions and answers session with public health officials and opposition TDs.
“Routine and exercise are incredibly important to maintaining good mental health, and this will be particularly difficult during a winter lockdown. Unfortunately, we have not been included in the discussions and decision making on restrictions and have not received the briefings from NPHET and the CMO.
“Transparency is important for everyone’s understanding of the restrictions and compliance with them. People deserve clarity.”
Yet, just as Sinn Fein were taking issue with the lack of information they are receiving from the Government, another statement reached us from a Government party TD, from the same constituency.
In a statement, this morning Fine Gael’s Dáil Health Spokesperson – Colm Burke TD, also from Cork North Central – said “Sinn Féin must start taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to COVID-19, as their hypocritical game playing is helping nobody”
Colm Burken was commenting on revelations by the Irish Independent that Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald left a COVID-19 briefing after less than an hour, despite having claimed she did not have access to information on public health advice.
Deputy Burke said:
“Today’s revelations stack up of further proof that Sinn Féin say one thing in public but practise the entire opposite in reality. They are hypocritical and disingenuous, which is bad enough in normal times, but when it comes to COVID-19 this kind of game playing is just not good enough.
“Mary Lou McDonald has spent the last week saying that she could not give an opinion on the need to move to Level 5 of the Government’s Plan for Living with COVID-19, doing the typical Sinn Féin thing of waiting to see what way the wind was blowing before committing to a public position. She repeatedly evaded questions on the matter claiming that she did not have the necessary public health information.
“Now it turns out that she simply could not be bothered to obtain that information, even when it was made easy for her. Members of the Opposition were given a briefing by senior officials from the Department of Health last week, including Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn and HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid. They gave up their valuable time for this briefing, despite all the many demands on their resources at this very challenging time.
“Mary Lou McDonald was at this important briefing, but showed extraordinary disrespect to these public health officials by leaving after less than an hour, before they had even finished delivering their briefing.
“This is an unbelievable, even for Sinn Féin. Disrespecting public officials would be bad enough but for Mary Lou to then spend the few days claiming she did not have the necessary public health information to take a position on the move to Level 5 is really disingenuous. Sinn Féin just cannot be trusted when it comes to COVID-19 and their hypocritical game playing is helping nobody.
“This Government has done the responsible thing from the very beginning of this crisis, ensuring that Opposition parties are fully briefed on public health advice and the plans for restrictions on society. We in turn expect Opposition parties to take their own responsibilities seriously and engage with the briefings available. Instead we see Sinn Féin skipping the briefings and playing politics with the matter instead, claiming they didn’t have the information necessary to take a position on the move to Level 5.
“COVID-19 has resulted in loss of life, serious health issues for many people and livelihoods put at risk across the country. It is time Sinn Féin took their responsibilities seriously. We are all working hard to ensure that Level 5 is a success and we hope everyone across the political spectrum will play their part in encouraging adherence to the public health guidelines”