Leo Varadkar: Government considering advice for public against travel to Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar: Government considering advice for public against travel to Northern Ireland

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar. Picture: Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Advice telling people not travel to the north due to the higher rate of coronavirus there is under Government consideration, the Tánaiste has told party colleagues.

There are now question marks around whether the public should be travelling across the border as the Government mulls over the easing of level 5 restrictions from next week.

However, Leo Varadkar told a meeting of his parliamentary party that the Covid targets set down by Nphet for an easing of restrictions were never agreed to by the Government.

While Nphet wants case numbers to reduce to around 100 per day and the R rate to be at 0.5, Mr Varadkar said this was never the target within Government.

Instead, he told the zoom meeting that the Government is aiming for a slightly higher R rate of less than one.

Mr Varadkar said he is looking forward to next year when we hopefully will regain the personal freedoms that were taken for granted before the pandemic.

He said the country is doing well in this second wave of the virus with only Iceland and Finland faring better across Europe.

Lifting Covid-19 restrictions

A number of members, including Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan, Joe Carey and John Paul Phelan called for the reopening of all pubs and not just those serving food.

Mr O'Donovan sought urgent clarity on the reopening of churches and religious services. It is understood he also called for all pubs to open telling the meeting that they are safer than house parties. The OPW Minister suggested a booking system be introduced in pubs.

Mr Phelan questioned why so-called wet pubs would be treated differently than gastro pubs or hotel bars and agreed that bookings could be taken to allow them reopen.

However, Mr Varadkar said there is a need to be frank with people and if we open up then case numbers will also go up.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar hit out at the opposition for trying to make a big deal out of the appointment of former Attorney General Séamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court.

He said 17 former Attorneys General had been appointed judges over the years.

He confirmed that a new judicial appointments bill would be published before Christmas.

Mr Varadkar also told party colleagues that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report will be published before the end of this Dáil term.

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