Paschal Donohoe: Deviation from Nphet advice had 'clear' impact on Covid-19 numbers

Mr Donohoe said the Government would reflect on its mistakes, saying: " I accept responsibility as a member of the Government for decisions I've made."
Paschal Donohoe: Deviation from Nphet advice had 'clear' impact on Covid-19 numbers

Paschal Donohoe said although the Government followed Nphet advice on Covid "most of the time", it was trying to get people back to work. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

The Finance Minister says he accepts the Government's deviation from public health advice at Christmas "had a clear" effect on where Ireland is now.

Paschal Donohoe said although the Government followed Nphet advice on Covid "most of the time", it was trying to get people back to work.

He admitted on Newstalk radio that the Government did not fully follow Nphet advice at the beginning of the Christmas period, which advised against opening hospitality, household visits and non-essential retail together, which led to Ireland's spike in positive cases being ranked the worst in the world.

"Across the entire period of dealing with Covid for nearly the year that we've been dealing with it we did, for most of the time, accept the advice and guidance that Nphet was giving the overwhelming majority of the time," he said. 

But you are correct to say across that particular period, we did make decisions that did differ to a degree from what NPHET was advising - that's the case.

"We were making those decisions with hundreds of thousands of people not having a job or trying to get them back to work and seeing if it was possible.

"Across that period I engaged in many debates in which the stringency of public health measures that we had in place, was also the source of criticism."

Mr Donohoe said the Government would reflect on its mistakes.

"Regarding the history, of course, we do need to debate it, and I of course need to be held to account for decisions that I've made," he said.

"Let there be no doubt about this, I of course accept responsibility as a member of the Government for decisions I've made, and the impact they've had and for all the other things I've had to do in the 10 to 11 months that I've been trying to lead, and work on behalf of our country to deal with Covid-19.

"I do accept that the decision that we made was one of the factors in where we are now, but also we've made many other decisions that have helped our country deal with this disease, and help our citizens to deal with the consequences of this disease."

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