“I felt we were sending out mixed messages.” Leo Varadkar addresses communication on Green List... again 3 months ago

“I felt we were sending out mixed messages.” Leo Varadkar addresses communication on Green List... again

“So non-essential travel is cool?”

“No, it’s not cool.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said his comments on the government green list earlier this week, prior to its publication, were made in an attempt to address the “mixed messages” he believed were being sent out by the government on the matter.

On Tuesday night, the government published a list of 15 countries to which Covid-19 travel restrictions will not apply following much speculation on the government stance on travel in and out of the country in the days and weeks previous.

Before the list was published, Varadkar himself chipped in on the matter, saying that “if the travel advice for countries on the green list isn’t different to advice for other countries, then we would be better off not having a green list at all”.

At the time, a spokesperson for Varadkar said it was “wrong to send out mixed messages about international travel” but many felt that the Tánaiste was contributing to the confusion with his own comments on the matter.

Addressing the issue on Prime Time on RTÉ on Thursday night, Varadkar said: “I actually think a lot of ministers were commenting on the green list in the days before I commented on it.

“If I had to count, five, six, seven (ministers) were (commenting) and I felt that we were sending out mixed messages and my objective was to make sure that we made a decision and we made a clear decision and we explained to the Irish people that evening and that was done.”

Challenged by host David McCullagh, who put it to Varadkar that his comments only added to the mixed messaging, Varadkar responded: “My comments were that we shouldn’t send out mixed messages and what I wanted to make sure was that we didn’t delay the decision anymore.”

McCullagh then pressed Varadkar on his comments that the green list wouldn’t be of much use if the advice on travelling to the countries on the green list wasn’t different to the advice on other countries.

“It is different now,” Varadkar said.

“It’s not really,” McCullagh replied.

“That’s not correct,” Varadkar responded.

“No, the government message and the government travel advice is as follows: the safest thing is not to travel, to stay at home and to holiday at home this summer. But if you are travelling, there are two different sets of countries, those on the green list, those not on the green list.

“The difference between the green list and those not on the green list is that if you’re coming from, or coming back from a country on the green list, you don’t need to restrict your movements for 14 days. If you’re coming back from a country, or someone’s coming in from a country that’s not on the green list, then you are supposed to self-isolate or, rather, to restrict your movements for 14 days.

“Anybody who’s confused about this, any doubts about it, go to the Department of Foreign Affairs website, they’ll give you the exact advice there.”

Asked by McCullagh if “non-essential travel is cool”, Varadkar replied: “No, it’s not cool, but the advice has changed, the advice is exactly as I explained to you.”