Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.20 18 Oct 2020


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The co-leader of the Social Democrats says there is no real coronavirus strategy here.

Róisín Shortall said the Government's approach instead has been to "muddle along".

She was speaking after lengthy meetings on Saturday broke up without any agreement on whether or not to implement level five coronavirus restrictions for six weeks.

It will now be Monday evening at the earliest before we know whether a second lockdown will be approved by the Government.

She told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh opposition parties have been excluded from the decision-making.

"The reality is that the Government is not engaging in any consultation whatsoever with opposition parties.

"So we're very much outside of the room, we're not privy to the kind of advice and data and modelling and evidence that NPHET are providing to Government.

"And I think it would be really helpful if that was available to us.

"I've asked the Taoiseach on several occasions over recent months to consider an all-party approach to this.

"The point is that the strategy to be employed in tackling the virus and in driving it down should not be a matter for political disagreement.

"We should all be in possession of the same information and evidence, and we should be taking decisions based on what will work".

'Waiting for a vaccine'

She said there is no overall strategy to tackle the virus, but just a a loose plan.

"There is no strategy being pursued in this country - there is a plan, a loose plan, which is about waiting until a vaccine is available, and in the meantime having proper testing, tracing and isolation system.

"That is the core of the Government's plan.

"We have never had a proper testing, tracing and isolating system.

"We know in the early months there was a mad dash to try and get services into place, and all of that, it was a crisis situation.

"But over the summer months things were very quiet, we were down to single figure rates on a daily basis, and there is no doubt that complacency set in at that point.

"You have to ask: why was so much time lost over the summer months in terms of gearing up for the inevitable second wave?

"So that is a major problem".

'Too late'

She said New Zealand, as an example, had a "very clear strategy" to jump on any indication of any growth in the virus.

"We have never been in a position to do that - kind of 'muddle along' has been the main approach by Government".

She said many aspects should have been in place here by now, but it is too late.

"The testing is not fast enough, we don't have staff in place - we should have them in place by now.

"The tracing should have gone back to find out the places where transmission was taking place.

"We discovered there a few weeks ago that the tracers were only going back 48 hours - so we basically knew very little about the virus.

"Those things need to be dealt with, but it's too late now.

"We know the public health people are telling us that the virus is so prevalent that we cannot trace it at this point - the system is collapsing".

"We should of course have had an all-island strategy long before now.

"Why is it that only in the last few weeks the Government are talking about that?"

Shortall: There is no coronavirus strategy from Government

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Roisin Shortall outside the gates of Leinster House in February 2020. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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Coronavirus Coronavirus Strategy Newstalk Breakfast Roisin Shortall Social Democrats

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