Taoiseach: Another lockdown cannot be ruled out

'The coming weeks will be uncertain, with no guarantees,' the Taoiseach told his parliamentary party meeting tonight.
Taoiseach: Another lockdown cannot be ruled out

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told TDs and senators that 'socialisation has to be reduced'. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has delivered a stark warning to his party that there can be no guarantees that another lockdown will not be needed in the coming weeks.

Addressing the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, Mr Martin said: “We are in a challenging period, and the coming weeks will be uncertain, with no guarantees.”

He said the modelling on case numbers as presented to Government is very worrying, with a peak expected in the coming weeks.

Socialisation has to be reduced,” he stressed.

Mr Martin said he recognises the impact on the night-time economy and how tough it is. 

“The purpose of all economic intervention to date is to support businesses and workers in our society," he said.

There is 60,000 now on PUP, and there are many opportunities in sectors of our economy for employment.” 

Up to 270,000 booster vaccines are to be administered every week as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) has been asked to look at reducing the five-month gap between initial vaccination and booster shots.

Mr Martin said he has asked Niac to review the five-month timeframe, especially for those who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines.

Mr Martin also told the meeting that housing minister Darragh O’Brien will bring proposals on the mica redress scheme in the next week or so. 

We must deal with this issue in a comprehensive way,” he said.

Mr Martin was challenged by Kilkenny TD John McGuinness on the failure to respond to the 'Grace' case and the calls for a full inquiry into the Shane O’Farrell death.

Several party sources said the exchanges were “tetchy”, but Mr Martin did respond with some good answers, and Mr McGuinness “did not win the room over”.

At the Fine Gael meeting, held in the absence of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who is in the Middle East, the lack of PUP for night-time economy workers was raised.

Social protection minister Heather Humphreys
Social protection minister Heather Humphreys

Talking about hospitality workers who were affected by the new restrictions to be implemented on Thursday, social protection minister Heather Humphreys said that hospitality workers “won’t be found wanting”, and that “they weren’t found wanting before, and won’t be again”.

It is understood Ms Humphreys said that: “Last year people were complaining that people wanted the workers off the PUP, and now they want them back on it."

"She made a good point," a senior Fine Gael source said.

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin called for the overhaul of Niac, saying it had been too slow to issue advice on boosters.

He said that Niac had “dropped the ball again”, referencing its previous categorisation of who would get the first vaccines based on their health or occupation, which was later revised to an age-based system.

A number of TDs and senators voiced criticism of the communications strategy around the latest announcement earlier this week.

Senators Jerry Buttimer, Mary Seery Kearney, and Martin Conway cited the interview given by health minister Stephen Donnelly on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, without naming him.

A comparison was made to the U-turns on remote working made in recent days to the infamous time in 2010 when ministers Noel Dempsey and Dermot Ahern denied on camera that the IMF were about to arrive in Ireland, only for them to do so mere days later.

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