'Minister for beer gardens' - Opposition criticises Tánaiste for comments about reopening economy


Newstalk
Newstalk

13.01 10 Feb 2021


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The Tánaiste has been labelled the 'minister for beer gardens' and been criticised for his comments about reopening the economy.

This morning, the Dáil debated a Labour party motion calling for an aggressive clampdown on community transmission of the coronavirus, to get as close as possible to Zero COVID.

It comes as the Government is revising the living with COVID plan, with a new version to be released in two weeks.

It's expected to give an indication of what restrictions will be lifted on March 5th.

Yesterday Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he hoped construction would open, and that people may be able to meet outdoors.

However, Labour has claimed the living with COVID plan published last autumn is now 'redundant' and should be stood down.

In the absence of concrete plans, Labour's Aodhan O'Riordain said the Tánaiste has again been undermining the national effort.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said: "The minister for beer gardens comes out and further his own personal agenda, again making things worse talking about potentially reopening and family gatherings.

"There is genuinely no point in giving people hope about beer gardens, family gatherings and schools reopening if we're just going to go and lock down again in May."

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall, meanwhile, said any future plan will be undermined without additional restrictions on travel.

She said: "This is fantasy stuff. Unless we change the strategy and pursue a rigorous Zero COVID strategy, we are facing rolling lockdowns".

The opposition is united in calling for full mandatory hotel quarantine for people coming into Ireland.

The Tánaiste suggested the current list of two countries - South Africa and Brazil, where new variants have been detected - could be expanded.

Reporting by Sean Defoe
Main image: File photo. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

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