Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.15 14 Jun 2021


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Serial antigen testing should be used for all flights between Ireland and Britain, David Cullinane says.

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson says it's an "opportune time" to test the effectiveness of rapid testing.

It comes as the Government looks at stricter rules for people travelling from Britain, amid concerns over the spread of the Delta variant in the UK.

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That could mean longer quarantine periods for unvaccinated people, although some experts are calling for mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from Britain.

Meanwhile, politicians and scientists have been pushing for the introduction of rapid antigen testing to be used to help facilitate travel - although NPHET has so far been hesitant to sign off on the widespread use of those tests.

On The Pat Kenny Show, Deputy Cullinane says there's now a perfect opportunity to trial the rapid tests.

He said: “If the Government has been slow on anything, it has been on using serial antigen testing.

“As a start and pilot, they should look at serial antigen testing on all flights to and from Britain. I think that would be better from a public health response, and I also think it would be good for public health experts to learn about the effectiveness of antigen testing.

“There is different advice being given to the Government by medical advisers on one hand and the scientific advisers on the other.

"What I’m saying is it would be an opportune time for the Government to use serial antigen testing as a pilot.”

The Sinn Féin TD said that Ireland is “behind the curve” with antigen testing, and the Government has been slow on introducing measures around international travel “right across the board”.

He said: “The number one objective has to be to guard and protect the easing of restrictions that we have seen over the course of the last number of weeks, and the further easing of restrictions we’re going to see.”

Deputy Cullinane said Sinn Fein supports whatever public health advice is given by NPHET, and they would support stricter quarantine rules for arrivals from Britain if that's what is advised.

However, he doesn’t believe “anyone would accept” that full mandatory hotel quarantine between Ireland and Britain is the right solution.

He added that there should be much stronger coordination between the Republic and Northern Ireland when it comes to travel rules.

Main image: David Cullinane (Photo: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie) / an antigen test (Photo: Christoph Soeder/DPA/PA Images)

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