Micheál Martin: Difficult decisions on pubs at end of lockdown

Micheál Martin: Difficult decisions on pubs at end of lockdown

There were calls from TDs including Barry Cowen and Christopher O’Sullivan for pubs and restaurants to be allowed re-open.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned his party that decisions to be taken at the end of the six-week lockdown will be “difficult”.

Mr Martin told his colleagues that the hospitality sector “will be a problem” but he did say the Irish are the best in Europe at fighting Covid-19.

There were calls from TDs including Barry Cowen and Christopher O’Sullivan for pubs and restaurants to be allowed re-open.

Mr Cowen called for a consultation with the hospitality sector to agree whatever new guidelines are needed. 

He said while a decision as to whether to open cannot be taken this far out, consultation is needed to give as a good a chance for a safe Christmas. 

At Christmas we will trust the public at celebrating, he said.

Meanwhile, the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting also heard from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly who said that no woman affected by the CervicalCheck will be left behind “by hook or by crook”.

Mr Donnelly was responding to calls for compassion to be shown to the women involved from colleagues at the private meeting.

According to several sources at the meeting, Sligo TD Marc MacSharry said making cases statute barred is not a good position for the party to be adopting.

“There must be compassion first,” he reportedly said.

Mr Macsharry said the labs should not be included in tribunal.

He said the party should cater for the recurrence of cancer in the same way as the Hep C issue was dealt with years ago.

The 50-odd women who find themselves through no fault of their own outside the statute of limitations should be looked after by way of a letter from Government to the tribunal chair to admit their cases.

He said compassion needs to trump any default position or financial consideration on this occasion.

In response, Mr Donnelly said when it came to the statute of limitation, “no woman would be left outside the door of the tribunal by hook or by crook”.

He also said the laboratories involved in the missed diagnoses must be included in the tribunal, thereby making it adversarial, which is against the wishes of campaigners, the 221+ group.

Responding to Irish Examiner reports of Mr Donnelly’s comments, campaigner Vicky Phelan said: “This is not what was communicated to the 221+ Group in the letter from the Minister of November 8 last. 

We were advised that if the statute of limitations were amended (for those women who are currently statute-barred) it would almost certainly lead to the withdrawal of the labs from the tribunal.

Cavan TD Niamh Smyth raised the issue of the North-South Interconnect and the promises FF to look at undergrounding the lines. 

She also raised when the commitment was given by FF in opposition to an inquiry into the death of Shane O'Farrell. 

The Taoiseach committed to raising the interconnector issue with Energy Minister Eamon Ryan.

Junior Finance Minister Sean Fleming outlined his progress on his review of election 2020, which saw the party drop to just 37 Dáil seats.

Mr Cowen said he wants questions answered on the role of HQ on the election campaign. 

"We were on the back foot once the campaign got underway".

Senator Eugene Murphy voiced his concern on party's poor poll ratings while Minister Anne Rabbitte said she wants analysis of the work of the regional organisers with each candidates during election.

Dublin South-West TD John Lahart raised the RIC debacle, the pension-age issue and the three-way leaders debate as issues which damaged the party. 

He also said there were lots of gaps in the manifesto, adding these were some of the reasons for the poor result for the party in February.

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