'A new way of living': Govt powers introduced in response to virus must be proportionate

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has said she hopes that the government will not need to enact powers to monitor mass gatherings or treat those affected by the virus, but who refuse to self-isolate.

'A new way of living': Govt powers introduced in response to virus must be proportionate

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has said she hopes that the government will not need to enact powers to monitor mass gatherings or treat those affected by the virus, but who refuse to self-isolate.

Liam Herrick, the executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has described new powers the government is said to be planning to introduce in response to the coronavirus outbreak as “invasive”.

Such powers need to be proportionate, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

The Oireachtas will be charged with an “onerous task” of introducing legislation that the Government feels is necessary, but that also gets the “balance of rights” correct, Mr Herrick said.

“What's being proposed at present is that a medical officer may make a decision that somebody is to be detained.

"The conditions are that the person is a potential source of infection and a potential risk to public health.

"Under human rights law, that is a reasonable necessity, there is a standard there.”

It may be useful for the Oireachtas to have reference to other legislation, particularly in regard to mental health detention he said.

The Oireachtas could examine if there are elements of safeguards in that legislation that could be appropriately translated.

“In the broad framework of what's being proposed” the powers are reasonable, and it's understandable why they may be necessary.

“But we need to ensure that the technical aspects of safeguards are correct.”

Dr Margaret Harris, spokesperson for the World Health Organisation has said that people need to accept a new way of living.

Dr Harris said everyone needs to think about what they can do to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

China has shown the world how important it was to take the virus “very seriously” and the situation there was now “looking very good” and they were not rushing back into everything, she said.

“Changing how we live, that’s the secret. It’s not easy but it’s doable,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.

“We’re in it for the long haul. We have to accept a new way of living.

"We’re all connected, there is a closer world community, but it does have its down sides.”

However, Dr Harris, said there were ground for optimism.

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