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Mattie McGrath

Published 11 months ago 11th September 2021 by Editor

Government finally announce reopening plan after 18 months of confusion and lingering

The Government’s long overdue re-opening announcement has failed to provide the much- needed immediate clarity for the live entertainment and events sector, according to the Rural Independents.
Deputy Mattie McGrath stated: “We broadly welcome this long overdue announcement by the government to reopen the country. It comes after the Irish people have endured one of the most stringent restrictions on personal freedoms anywhere in the world. However, the fact that indoor events, live music, drama, live entertainment, sporting events and gatherings can only take place, when seated and capped at 60 percent capacity, means that many venues will find it economically unviable to host such events.
“Unfortunately, no additional financial supports were announced to assist venues or the live entertainers who perform there. Therefore, we are calling for an extension to the current level of pandemic unemployment payment and business interruption supports, until such time as all these operators can resume full capacity and/or employment.

“The ban on religious ceremonies and restricted attendance at loved one’s funeral ceremonies over the last eighteen months was heartless and cruel. Thankfully, we are nearing the end of the road in terms of these restrictions, but the government are still unnecessarily penalising churches by only allowing 50 percent capacity from September 6th, while at the same time a Dublin Bus can have full capacity. This contradiction is bizarre.

“Meanwhile, the government’s announcement also failed to address the issue of partners of expectant mothers having to wait in their cars outside maternity hospitals.

“Cumulatively, the Irish people have paid an extremely high price during this pandemic, mainly due to very severe restrictions which has hit many indigenous sectors hardest and caused wide-spread job losses, especially in rural areas.

“My colleagues and I in the Rural Independent group, have been consistently calling on the government to provide clarity and transparency around their actions since the beginning of this pandemic. The lack of such clarity and openness has cost immeasurable social, community and economic damage. As we emerge from this pandemic, it will be necessary to undertake a rigorous independent impact assessment, to ensure the same mistakes are never made again. Serious questions must be asked and answered, and individuals must be held accountable.

“For instance, how could the HSE spend over €80 million on Chinese ventilators; yet, not even one of these devices were used in an Irish hospital. Such reckless actions are undefendable and must be addressed. Having the health Minister Stephen Donnelly, on today’s morning Ireland radio show, endeavouring to defend such action is utterly unacceptable. In fact, he is the responsible Minister, and therefore should be investigating and seeking the required transparency on this any many other issues.
“Equally, the impact of the restrictions and the reduced capacity to access public services such as healthcare will take years to fully rectify. Ireland now has one of the longest public health waiting lists anywhere in the western world, with over 900,000 people waiting for some form of hospital treatment. “The seriousness of Ireland’s hospital waiting lists cannot be overstated. In fact, an avalanche of missed healthcare is having a very serious impact on people’s health and wellbeing, representing an utter failing on the part of the government to plan, manage and execute an effective public healthcare model in Ireland.

“We are calling on the government to address their failings, by adopting an urgent strategic toolkit to ensure the waiting list mountain is cleared. Our healthcare system must be prioritised, and the patients’ needs must become the absolute priority now,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.

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