“We are where we are today because of the government’s failure to plan and act on key issues.”
That is the view of the Rural Independent Group, which believes “government negligence” is the “direct result” of the latest Covid-19-related “shutdown measures”.
The group has called on the government to fully reinstate the PUP and all business support schemes for impacted workers and sectors.
In a statement, following An Taoiseach’s announcement, Rural Independent Group leader, Mattie McGrath, said:
“An all-out lack of clarity and strategic planning on the part of this government means that Irish people feel like they are on a perpetual ‘Groundhog Day’ treadmill.”
“Such gross incompetence is having a tremendous mental and economic strain on all citizens.”
He said other governments worldwide have adopted strategic plans and protocols to allow life to resume and businesses to operate in an “almost normalised manner”.
“For some reason, this government seems to botch everything they touch or not to do simple things well.”
McGrath said the government is introducing restrictions on predications on the presumption that Ireland’s hospitals will become overrun and that ICU capacity will not cope with any Covid case surge.
“However, over the last twenty months, the government has completely failed to boost either hospital or ICU capacity. This is despite having the time and taxpayers’ money to do so.”
Antigen testing: Covid-19 pandemic
The group said it has called for the government to introduce responsive antigen testing since the pandemic’s beginning. This, McGrath added, would enable people to self-test, and where necessary, remove themselves from public settings.
Equally, it has called for:
- Enhanced investments in schools, public buildings and other facilities that support community and sporting assembly by enhancing ventilation in indoor settings;
- Together with targeted investments in providing additional ICU capacity, hospital beds and nursing staff increases.
Healthcare staff at ‘breaking point’
“Under this government’s inaction, our healthcare settings are completely overrun, and staff are at breaking point.”
“This is evidenced by the fact that the greatest number of Covid clusters (283) occurred in healthcare settings over the past eight weeks.”
The group believe the government has “failed miserably” to address any of these issues, despite having twenty months.
“Therefore, people naturally feel that they are back at square-one this evening, despite having over 90% of the population vaccinated.”
“The government’s resorting to vaccine passports amounts to nothing more than deflecting away from their own inaction.”
“It is blatant discrimination and is not based on any scientific rationale. If it is, then we call on the government to publish this information immediately.”
PUP cuts: Covid-19 pandemic
Accordingly, McGrath said it is “absolutely imperative” that government reverse any cuts to PUP payment and other business supports for all impacted workers and sectors.
“In fact, it is glaringly hypocritical for the government to be announcing new restrictions on the same day as they are cutting the pandemic unemployment payment. This is illustrative of an out-of-touch administration.”
“It is completely unacceptable that ordinary workers and small business owners would have to take the financial hit for the government’s obvious incompetence, especially at a time when that same government is skyrocketing people’s cost of living via massive hikes in the carbon tax, which is increasing everything from petrol and diesel to home heating, electricity and food prices.”
“The real effect of today’s new restriction measures will mean that some businesses will be forced to shut down. Staying open will not be economically viable.”
“Many workers, having come off the PUP payment, for instance, based on previous government announcements, may now be forced out of work but will not be entitled to reapply for the payment.”
He called on government to “swiftly” address this matter.
“In overall terms, the knock-on economic impact of today’s announcement is far-reaching. For a government to put people in such a position five weeks before Christmas is awful and insensitive,” concluded the deputy.
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