Mary Lou McDonald: Ireland’s Covid-19 testing regime 'woefully inadequate'

Mary Lou McDonald: Ireland’s Covid-19 testing regime 'woefully inadequate'

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald launched a stinging attack on Micheal Martin Picture: Niall Carson/PA

The Government’s new coronavirus plan is not worth the paper it is written on unless testing and tracing capacity is ramped up, Mary Lou McDonald has said.

The Sinn Fein President accused Taoiseach Micheal Martin of failing to deliver on the most important element of the national strategy to suppress the virus.

She accused Mr Martin of  “making it up as you go along” as she heavily criticised what she said was a failure to meet a commitment to test 100,000 people a week and deliver results within 24 hours.

Mrs McDonald claimed public confidence in the Fianna Fail leader’s ability to manage the Covid-19 crisis had “collapsed”.

“You’ve made an appeal again Taoiseach today to individual citizens to shoulder their responsibilities, and that’s fair enough, but the fact is that you are failing in yours,” she said during exchanges in the Dail.

“You see you can publish whatever plan that you want, but they’re not worth the paper that they are written on so long as our testing and our tracing capacities are so woefully inadequate.

“So you have to get this right because a first class testing and tracing system is the springboard for everything that we want to see.

“It’s the sure mechanism to allow people to return to work and stay at work safely, to allow children and students to return to education, and to stay there safely.”

Mrs McDonald said Mr Martin had to confront an “inescapable truth”.

“And that is either you get testing and tracing right, and you do it quickly, or we will be consigned to a yo-yo effect of further restrictions and even lockdowns,” she added.

“And I have no doubt that citizens will carry the burden of their responsibilities, but the Government has to measure up to theirs.”

Mr Martin rejected the Sinn Fein leader’s criticism and accused her of indulging in partisan politics.

He insisted enhancing test and trace capacity was a central focus on the new national plan on Covid-19.

“Over a million tests have taken place in this country since the pandemic,” he said.

“That is right up there in terms of other European countries in terms of its testing capacity.

“And it’s not good enough to attack people as being woeful and trying to belittle the very strong measures that have been taken on testing.

“Of course we all want to increase and ramp up, and it (the system) can do 15,000 a day now.”

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