Tanaiste Simon Coveney has called for a stable coalition to be formed among political parties to fight Covid-19, insisting that “Ireland needs you".
Addressing the Seanad, the Fine Gael deputy leader also gave a stark warning about the virus and what lies ahead.
“In truth, we know we must brace ourselves for much worse to come. This is not nearly over. As was outlined by the Chief Medical Officer, this invisible enemy is just beginning its spread through our country and people. We know from the experience of other countries and the mathematical predictions available that a great deal is still to come.”
Senators are debating emergency legislation to give effect to measures passed in the Dail on Thursday. These include a €3.7bn wage and welfare subsidy package, a ban on evictions of tenants and rent rises for three months and other health protections.
Mr Coveney thanked senators for not pushing amendments, which if happened, would result in the legislation being delayed and going back to the Dail for debate.
Many senators today have raised concerns about the lack of personal protection equipment for hospital health staff as well as the lack of strict rules on building sites to maintain social distancing.
But Mr Coveney used much of his opening address to appeal to other parties and politicians to form a government, for the good of the nation.
“It [Ireland] also needs a Government that is strong and stable; one that is realistic, ambitious and diverse; one that can last with the authority, mandate and majority to make decisions quickly, to pass legislation through the Houses at short notice if necessary, and to provide the leadership needed in the times ahead; one that not only makes the right decisions now, in the face of a global pandemic, but is also planning for a recovery that can inspire hope and confidence that we will emerge stronger and more united as a country; and one that is able to look to the future with optimism, based on a clear path forward that a Government needs to design.”
Mr Coveney went on to say that he hoped a government could be formed soon, ramping up his appeal to parties to work together.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are working together through our negotiating teams to shape a process that, I hope, will encourage others to join us in designing this diverse yet stable Government with a credible mandate, not only to lead us through this emergency but also to focus on reimagining and reshaping Ireland for the better as we emerge on the other side.
"I invite others to play their part in these efforts. Ireland needs you.”