Paschal Donohoe: 'Strong possibility' Dublin could hit stage 3 by week's end

Paschal Donohoe: 'Strong possibility' Dublin could hit stage 3 by week's end

Minister Donohoe accepted that there has been some confusion over the new framework. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

There is a "strong possibility" Dublin could move to Level Three of restrictions by the end of the week, the Finance Minister says.

The capital was put at Level Two with the rest of the country when the government announced its new framework for living with Covid-19 yesterday, albeit with extra restrictions.

However, within minutes of the announcement, government sources had warned that Dublin would be in Level Three, which comes with a raft of extra restrictions, as early as next week. 

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, Minister Paschal Donohoe said that was a "strong possibility".

"I'm doing this interview at the moment in my home in Dublin, and the concerns that are guiding us regarding Dublin are about how - it's not just about the increase in the disease - it's about how the disease is spreading home to home. 

"And that's a really serious development for us. And that's why we are asking in Dublin that gatherings of no more than six take place, and up to a maximum of two households in those. I think moving to level three is a possibility and a real possibility. 

"If that happens, it will involve change, and if we get that advice from NPHET, it's something that government will obviously take very seriously. And that will be consistent with the framework that we launched yesterday."

Mr Donohoe accepted that there has been some confusion over the framework and said that if there is, it is up to the government to take responsibility for it.

"When you're launching any plan, you always have a look back and think 'are there things that we could have done differently?' And the fact that you're asking the question of me, emphasises for me the kind of issues I need to clarify. But I would say that the difficulty and need that we have to understand is how we communicate on a single day. We need to be very clear with our country for the next six to nine months, regarding what we're asking them to do.

"If there is confusion at the end of the day you have to take responsibility for that if you're in government."

He the country is being asked to do a lot by the Government.

"And in some cases we're asking our country to do things in different places, and in different ways to what we would have done before. And we need to all play our part in communicating it and then, in our country, keeping each other safe."

On the same programme, Labour TD  Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the unique approach for Dublin "didn't help".

"The five point plan makes sense to me, but when you take the capital city out of it and say 'you're in level two point five or three', that is confused."

Mr Donohoe also defended the decision by the Ceann Comhairle to halt Dáil proceedings on Tuesday when Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly went for a Covid test. 

The Dáil was a workplace and was subject to the same guidelines as the public. It had been “entirely understandable” what had happened, he said. But it might have been more appropriate to have had a temporary adjournment.

Earlier on Morning Ireland, Duncan Smith, Labour's spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport, had said that the Government should have placed Dublin clearly on either Level 2 or on Level 3 on Tuesday.

Mr Smith questioned why Dublin had not been placed on Level 3 immediately, the Government “flew enough kites over Dublin in the last week” and people had been expecting and would have accepted stricter measures in the capital.

The Government continued “communicating itself into a cul de sac.” 

Many of his constituents were confused, he said and had contacted him to ask if they could leave Dublin for work or college, along with the couple, with a small wedding planned outside the capital, who had asked if it could go ahead.

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