FF backbencher joins calls to make children's clothing an 'essential' retail item

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it would be unfair to smaller retailers, forced to close under Level 5 lockdown conditions, if large supermarkets were allowed to sell so-called “non-essential” items
FF backbencher joins calls to make children's clothing an 'essential' retail item

Clothing is not currently considered to be essential, and the government has been rejecting calls to alter this classification in recent days. File picture

The Government needs to rethink its advice on clothing being a 'non-essential' retail item. 

That's according to Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North-Central for Pádraig O'Sullivan. 

In a tweet this morning, Mr O'Sullivan wrote there was a need for "common sense" to prevail on the issue. 

He wrote: "Anyone with young kids, like we do, or who know people with certain medical conditions or for people suffering from incontinence I think common sense needs to prevail here. 

"I've made the case to govt to reconsider."

Mr O'Sullivan's call echoes those of several opposition leaders and TDs. 

Also tweeting this morning, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou MacDonald expressed her belief that clothing should be considered an 'essential' item for shoppers.

"Clothes are essential. Common sense is also essential, though in short supply in FF/FG government," she wrote.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland this morning, Social Democrats education spokesperson Gary Gannon urged the government to clarify their communication around goods that could be considered 'essential'

Mr Gannon said that children’s clothes, in particular, were essential and that there was no point in closing the ‘non-essential’ aisles in supermarkets at present, as most were in buildings that were of sufficient size so as to allow for social-distancing, and were well ventilated.

The Level 5 restrictions sub-section of the Government's 'Living with Covid' plan states that retailers with a "mixed retail offering" should have "discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail" and "should make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas”.

Clothing is not currently considered to be 'essential', and the government has been rejecting calls to alter this classification in recent days.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin himself said it would be unfair to smaller retailers, forced to close under Level 5 lockdown conditions, if large supermarkets were allowed to sell so-called “non-essential” items.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Martin said some retailers had been "exploiting" the situation.

He said: “Shops can't exploit the situation, particularly big retailers and so on, because small retailers had to close."

It's not fair on them that a multiple would have its non-essential side open. That's just not fair and that's not everyone pulling together. 

"Multiples have assured government that they're not going to do this.

"Many people on the street fronts and country towns had to close. And it's not fair for them," he said.

Supermarket chains including Aldi, Lidl, and Tesco have all said that they will limit the 'non-essential items', including children's clothing, they had previously sold. 

In recent days, gardaí been calling to stores around Ireland and advising them that they can no longer sell children's clothes, homewares, and other non-food and drink items.

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