Government seeks to extend Covid emergency powers despite opposition 

The three-month extension would see measures such as mask-wearing and the use of vaccine passports remain law until February next year
Government seeks to extend Covid emergency powers despite opposition 

The three-month extension would see measures such as mask wearing and the use of vaccine passports remain law until February next year. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA

The Government will seek a further extension to the Covid-19 emergency powers in the Dáil today.

The three-month extension would see measures such as mask wearing and the use of vaccine passports remain law until February next year.

The Government said it must keep options open to deal with pandemic unknowns by retaining the ability to act quickly to impose regulations to stem the spread of the virus.

However, Sinn Féin has confirmed it will be voting against the extension.

David Cullinane, health spokesperson for the party, said they will reject the extension on the basis it keeps all emergency powers on statute books while only keeping a limited number of restrictions in place.

"Time has long since passed that they needed to be kept," he said.

"If the minister wants an element to remain, such as locator forms and masks, he should bring forward primary legislation that deals with those restrictions alone.

"This allows the minister to set regulations without debate, a recent example being nightclubs where we had last-minute regulations and no discussion, no debate, and no scrutiny, yet we're all held to account even though we had no part in it.

There can be no more blank cheques.

"Elements of public health measures should be kept but that can be done by primary regulation rather than leaving all on books."

People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett said his party will also vote against it.

"They were always very draconian measures and, in the teeth of the pandemic, extraordinary measures were maybe more justified but we were always concerned about excessive powers of this sort, which can alienate people rather than encourage," he said. 

"It's right to educate people rather than use coercive measures."

The Social Democrats and the Labour Party will decide ahead of the debate this morning.

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