Politicians should pay for their own face coverings while working in the Dáil, Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall has said.
Ms Shortall said it would not be “good practice” if TDs and ministers were given face coverings for free.
TDs have been encouraged to wear a face-covering while they are in the Dáil at Leinster House or the Convention Centre.
Dáil chairman Sean O Fearghail has asked public representatives to lead by example during the pandemic and wear face-coverings to suppress the possible spread of Covid-19.
I don't think it is good practice to be giving out masks free of chargeRoisin Shortall
“Members are requested to use their own face-coverings; however the Facilities Unit will have reusable and disposable masks available if required,” his advice reads.
Ms Shortall said TDs should wear cloth or reusable face coverings, as disposable face coverings are damaging to the environment.
“There are two elements to this – I don’t think public representatives should be promoting the use of disposable masks, as people can go through several in one day and they harm the environment,” she told the PA news agency.
“If this measure is to stay in place for the foreseeable future, it would come at a cost to the Exchequer.
“TDs and ministers should pay for their own masks.
I am strongly encouraging Members to wear a face covering in shared spaces and circulation areas, where at all possible, with effect from todaySean O Fearghail, Dail chairman
“If masks are given out freely, people would become careless with them if they did not have to pay for them.”
Ms Shortall suggested Dáil members and staff be required to make a payment for a cloth mask if they have forgotten to bring their own, in order to avoid cost and waste.
It comes as the wearing of face coverings became mandatory in shops in the country today.
Members are asked to wear them while in the Dáil chamber and in committee rooms, not while making a contribution or speaking to the house, with effect from today.
In a note sent to TDs this morning, Mr O Fearghail wrote that “the return to normal levels of parliamentary activity following the formation of Government requires extra vigilance and adherence” to public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.
He said: “The wearing of a face covering can play an important part in indoor settings where it is not always possible to adhere to two-metre social distancing.”
“Therefore, I am strongly encouraging Members to wear a face-covering in shared spaces and circulation areas, where at all possible, with effect from today.”
“I would also encourage Members to wear face coverings in the Chamber and in Committee rooms, when members are not speaking or making a contribution.”
The note includes a link containing guidance on the safe wearing of face-coverings.
The Clerk of the Dáil will arrange for the issue of a similar notice to all parliamentary political staff and other users of the buildings such as journalists and advisers.
The advice adds: “This measure is an important step for the protection of Members and staff.
“It is consistent with the most recent public health advice, and I look forward to your co-operation in this regard.”