Nearly 200,000 arrivals into Ireland since start of year

Nearly 200,000 arrivals into Ireland since start of year

To date, approximately 500 people have been asked to quarantine in Irish hotels on arrival since the system was put in place.

The number of passengers who have arrived into Ireland so far this year has reached almost 200,000, latest figures show.

The figures released by the Department of Transport show that that have been over 188,000 arrivals through Dublin Airport since the beginning of the year, with a further 4,000 through Cork and another 1,000 through Shannon Airport.

France, Italy, Turkey, Canada and the US were among 16 countries that were added by the Government to the hotel quarantine list on Friday, as the latest travel figures revealed that almost 3,300 people arrived into the country on flights from these newly added countries in the week up to April 4.

The figures do not provide a breakdown between essential workers or those who are exempt from quarantine.

To date, approximately 500 people have been asked to quarantine in Irish hotels on arrival since the system was put in place.

However, Sinn Féin's transport spokesperson Darren O'Rourke said the figures show that the "horse had bolted".

"The Government has ignored clear and repeated advice on this. The blatantly obvious science has been ignored. It's all been far too slow. Slow on the passenger locator form, slow on testing, and slow on quarantine. It's all about speed in a pandemic."

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy criticised the rollout of the mandatory hotel quarantine system

"You should still do it (hotel quarantine), but we're trying to stop water with a sieve. The sooner that we expand the list the better, but there's a real danger that we're missing cases and variants. And we know that people are booking flights to get in before Thursday. 

The whole thing is so incredibly reckless. We don't know that everyone who should be is quarantining and even those who are being asked are a tiny percentage of people arriving.

The figures come as documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to Aontú show that there was deep concern about the pre-Christmas travel ban from the UK.

The Government announced on December 20 last year that flights into Ireland from Britain would be banned, effective from the following day. However, documents secured by Meath West TD, Peadar Tóibín show that throughout that day officials in the Department of Transport remained opposed to banning flights, and included the reasons for their opposition in notes provided to the Minister - Green Party leader Eamon Ryan - ahead of a meeting he was due to have with the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar regarding the situation.

That evening an email was circulated to Department of Transport officials titled: "Info for leaders meeting". 

Flight bans

It says that flight bans are "generally not recommended by the European Commission... there is international travel that is essential and it is important to maintain the flight network to support it and the associated air cargo capability to maintain supply chains. The recommended alternative is to apply measures to persons travelling to mitigate against virus transmission".

"Outright flight bans will create major difficulties", the email states, expressing specific concerns regarding the then potential for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Toibín said the documents "pose a political question regarding the functioning of the coalition".

"The documents reveal that Eamon Ryan went into that meeting with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste armed with arguments by his department against banning flights, yet immediately afterwards he banned the flights."

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