Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.26 19 Feb 2021


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The Government's communication around COVID-19 restrictions has been 'just atrocious', the co-leader of the Social Democrats has said.

Róisín Shortall said people's 'hearts sank' when they heard in the media that lockdown measures could continue for another nine weeks.

It's after the Taoiseach Michael Martin said the severe restrictions could last for another nine weeks.

In an interview with the Irish Mirror, Mr Martin said 'significant' restrictions will continue until through April, and any easing of measures in the meantime will be modest.

Other ministers have said it's too early to say when level five restrictions will be eased, while different ministers have offered different details about the reopening plans for schools.

Deputy Róisín Shortall told The Pat Kenny Show the way the news is being delivered is unacceptable.

She said: "The communications from Government are just atrocious.

"It's completely unacceptable that in the midst of a serious crisis that we're in, that the Taoiseach should give critical information... by way of an exclusive interview with a newspaper.

"It's not the way to do business, and it's not the way for decision-making to take place in Government."

Deputy Shortall said 'every Wednesday night' now sees media leaks from the Government's parliamentary party meetings about possible announcements.

She said: "It's verbatim reporting as it's being said at the parliamentary party meetings... the indications are that's a deliberate ploy by both parties, and that's how they get news out.

"We are in the middle of a crisis - we need a clear strategy to get out.

"Saying we're going to continue with the same for the next nine weeks at least... when people heard that their hearts just sank."

Minister of State Niall Collins defended the Government's approach.

He said: "Suffice to say I don't think it will come as a surprise that the level of restrictions is going to remain in place for the foreseeable number of weeks.

"A collective decision will be taken."

He said the 'living with COVID' plan is currently being updated and revised.

The updated plan is set to be published next week, although is not expected to contain specific reopening dates for different sectors of the economy.

Main image: File photo of Róisín Shortall. Picture by: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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