Gabriel Scally: 'Public spat' between Leo Varadkar and Nphet 'unedifying'

Gabriel Scally: 'Public spat' between Leo Varadkar and Nphet 'unedifying'

Gabriel Scally (pictured) said that the Tánaiste’s comments have not been helpful. File photo

Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally has described the “public spat” between the Tánaiste and Nphet as unedifying and said Leo Varadkar's comments illustrate a "lack of statesmanship".

Dr Scally said that while he agreed with Mr Varadkar on some matters, he did not think that his comments on television were the way to do things. 

“That was not the way to sort it out,” Dr Scally told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

The Tánaiste’s comments with regard to Northern Ireland showed “a lack of statesmanship”. Blaming Northern Ireland for failing to reach zero cases was not good, he said.

Dr Scally said politicians have to make political decisions. It is a question of balancing public health measures and other needs, it is not a question of one or the other, it is both, he added.

There needs to be clear and consistent communications, but in the previous 24 hours the communications had been anything but clear, claimed Dr Scally.

There has to be a better mechanism for getting everyone on the same page “and getting stuff done".

Dr Scally said that the Tánaiste’s comments have not been helpful. The lack of clarity and direction means that “the only thing that would benefit would be the virus.”

If the Government wants a fuller, rounder level of advice, not just on public health, then it needs to bring in experts from other fields, said Dr Scally.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Jack Lambert has described the current approach to Covid-19 in Ireland as “flawed” and called for a new Government organisation to be formed to get more stakeholders around the table.

Prof. Lambert told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show that the current approach is not working.

Travel representatives, restaurateurs, scientists and frontline organisations all need to be involved in the decision-making. Prevention is part of the solution, he said. 

The current situation with regard to Covid-19 is a crisis, but people have not been treating it as such, especially in recent months.

“We haven't done the right things. Let's think about what we can do after the three weeks of Level 3 to do the right thing.”

Regulations and restrictions need to be enforced. Voluntary measures are not going to work, they have to be enforced, he said.

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