TD Mattie McGrath compares pandemic emergency legislation to "apartheid" 7 months ago

TD Mattie McGrath compares pandemic emergency legislation to "apartheid"

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said the use of the word was "non-acceptable".

Independent TD Mattie McGrath compared Covid-19 emergency legislation to "apartheid" when speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday (5 October).


Addressing Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney on the topic of extending the emergency powers, McGrath said the move would be "beyond comprehension".

"Everybody's in the expectation that we will be reopening everything on 22 January," the TD told the Dáil, perhaps confusing the forthcoming 'all restrictions lifted' date of 22 October in the process.

"To think that you want to hold on to this power grab for another three months till this Christmas as well when communities and families and business people have suffered so much and they're trying to get up off their knees and you want to introduce this."

McGrath later added:


"It just goes to show that something deeper [is] going on here about this whole Covid business than the health of people and the welfare of the citizens of Ireland and the business people and the people trying to carry on their work and their duty.

"It's an apartheid what's going on and we're objecting to that."

Mattie McGrath

Image via Leah Farrell /


Responding to McGrath's comment, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said the use of the word of "apartheid" was "non-acceptable."

"It undermines the actual reality of apartheid," Murphy explained, which Coveney then said he agreed with.

"I often disagree with my colleague across the way but on this one, I actually don't," the Minister stated.

"I think we do need to be careful with the language we use here because otherwise we start undermining what are words that describe issues that we need to be taking a very strong stand against."


Coveney also denied there was "something deeper going on" in regards to extending Covid-19 emergency powers.

"We have been debating in this house both live and remotely measures that the government needs to put in place to protect people in the context of Covid for 18 months now and that continues as we remove restrictions on society," the Minister added.

Earlier in the year, McGrath caused controversy when he referenced apartheid when discussing proposals to allow indoor dining only for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Also in 2021, McGrath and Taoiseach Micheál Martin engaged in a heated Dáil row over comments from McGrath comparing Covid certificates to life in Nazi Germany.