The decision to restrict the sitting of the Dáil for just one day a week is not good enough, particularly given the current scenario, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has said.
Speaking further on the matter, he said: “We are in the middle of a pandemic and yet, as a parliament, we are supposed to meet just once a week for 6 hours for all of January?”
“While everyone appreciates Covid numbers have been on the rise, we must be able to come to some other compromise in order for essential work to be carried out in the Dáil and the various committees.”
The work carried out in committees is “ferociously” important, he stressed. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, he listed several issues which require attention. These, he noted, include the crisis in the forestry sector; bovine TB; regulations surrounding animal remedies; and issues around fisheries.
“While private meetings can take place virtually; insufficient progress can be made this way.
“As it stands, we are nearly like someone shouting down from a mountain to another person in a valley. With restricted Dáil sittings, we have limited access to Government ministers to highlight our constituents’ concerns.”
“Our ability to hold ministers and the Government to account for their actions or decisions has been greatly diminished as a result of the recent restrictions.”
Fitzmaurice is calling on the Business Committee to review their decision on Thursday, January 14th regarding in-person meetings.
“Alternative solutions must be found to allow essential business to continue while still being mindful of Covid,” Fitzmaurice concluded.
Slow roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine
Meanwhile, Michael Fitzmaurice has said that vulnerable and elderly people living in communities need some clarity regarding when they will be able to access the Covid-19 vaccine.
The public representative was reacting to the slow roll-out of the programme in Ireland, and across the rest of Europe, this week.
“First of all, I believe the vaccination programme needs to be expediated. It is ironic, however, that the UK, which decided to leave the European Union, has more vaccinations administered to its citizens than the entire bloc of countries it is leaving.
“While there is a natural emphasis of rolling out the vaccine in nursing homes at present, other elderly or vulnerable people who are living out in the community may be keen to get the vaccine – but they are being left in the dark.
“These are people who may be depending on carers or family members to offer them support so they can remain living at home. They must also be afforded the opportunity to avail of the vaccine at the earliest possible convenience.” Fitzmaurice concluded.