Politicians want NPHET to be fall guy for unpopular restriction, says Covid committee chair

Politicians want NPHET to be fall guy for unpopular restriction, says Covid committee chair

Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE, and Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The chair of the Oireachtas Covid committee, Independent TD for Clare, Michael McNamra, has said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has been put in an impossible position by politicians.

At the end of the day NPHET was there to give public health advice to the Government and it was up to politicians to make decisions, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

But Mr McNamara said he feared that NPHET had been put in an “impossible position” by politicians because “if they get it wrong they will be nailed to the cross.” 

It was convenient for politicians to have someone else making the decisions because if they (NPHET) got it wrong “they can be the fall guy,” he added.

Mr McNamara said that Ireland had learned valuable lessons during the pandemic and “now we know that nursing homes need to be and can be protected.

“Maybe as a society we’re learning to live with Covid,” he said.

However, he was concerned that Ireland remained the only country that had completely closed down its hospitality industry.

If there was evidence that pubs were more dangerous places then people could make their own decisions about whether to go into one or not.

I’ve never seen a publican dragging people in. Where do we end with all these restrictions? 

Mr McNamara said he thought people should be informed of the risks “and let them decide.” 

 However, he hoped that there would not be a return to the scenes in acute hospitals earlier this year.

“We can’t continue to corral society and to corral people. We have to trust people to make informed decisions.

“We are social animals. Young people will meet and will congregate and we have to accept human behaviour.” 

Mr McNamara said that the restrictions had had a profound impact on people’s mental health and on the economy.

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