Covid-19 has created 'democratic deficit', TD says

Covid-19 has created 'democratic deficit', TD says

The Social Democrats say they will look at any proposal for coalition government produced by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

But co-leader Róisín Shortall says there are fundamental policy differences between her party and Fine Gael in particular.

The Dublin North West TD says she is waiting to see the proposals.

"We will look at that document when it has been finalised, it's not clear when that will be but I think they are still in the early stages.

"From our point of view there is a big policy gap between Fine Gael and ourselves in particular and there is no point being involved in the coalition if you fundamentally disagree."

Ms Shortall said there is a "democratic deficit" emerging because the Dáil is not meeting regularly to hold ministers to account.

The Dáil's business committee agreed yesterday that ministers would take questions at a restricted sitting after Easter.

Committee members also asked Oireachtas officials to examine using the Convention Centre in Dublin for a socially-distanced sitting of the full house.

"It is really important that opposition TDs can engage with ministers and the Taoiseach and get answers and establish that element of democratic accountability.

"It's a halfway house. It's not ideal but it's better than we have had so far."

The Cabinet will meet later as the focus turns towards the possible extension of the current coronavirus lockdown.

The measure, which includes the closure of schools, pubs and non-essential retail stores, is due to expire on Easter Sunday.

Government ministers will be briefed later on the latest developments around Covid-19 and will discuss advice on further tackling the spread of the illness.

The current restrictions, some of which were imposed almost four weeks ago, are due to expire this coming Sunday and will likely be among the topics raised.

Several ministers have indicated in recent days the measures will likely be extended.

However it is unlikely a decision on that will be made until later in the week.

The meeting comes as an unprecedented numbers of people avail of social welfare.

700,000 are now receiving supports after the number accessing the special Covid-19 unemployment payment jumped to more than half a million.

It also comes as new Garda powers are finalised.

The regulations, due later this week, will see officers able to make people return home if found not to be following health advice.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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