“We’re just short of calling for lynchings at the airports.” TD calls for perspective in Covid-19 coverage 4 weeks ago

“We’re just short of calling for lynchings at the airports.” TD calls for perspective in Covid-19 coverage

“If you were to listen to some media reporting now, one would think that the only thing you might die of in Ireland right now is Covid-19.”

Independent TD Michael McNamara has questioned if there’s a greater need for perspective in the coverage of Covid-19 in the Irish media and whether it has had an impact in contributing to mental health issues for people in Ireland.

Speaking at a special committee on Covid-19 response in the Dáil chamber on Tuesday in relation to the impact on the demand for and delivery of mental health services in Ireland, Clare native McNamara said: “If you were to listen to some media reporting now, one would think that the only thing you might die of in Ireland right now is Covid-19.

“And I think we’re just short of calling for lynchings at the airports in terms of the people who come to Ireland.

“I just wonder do you think that we need a bit more perspective and that it’s contributing to distress and mental health problems for people.”

McNamara’s question was addressed to Martin Rogan, CEO of Mental Health Ireland, who said that the Irish media in general “has been very responsible” in its reporting of Covid-19, but added that there is a need to be mindful that people can be exposed to a “distorted world view” if spending too long on social media.

Rogan referenced other countries where there has been “active denial” in the response to Covid-19 in comparison to Ireland, but he did flag that a number of other conditions, including mental health issues, shouldn’t get lost in the conversation on Covid-19 here as they are still seriously impacting on people’s lives and the quality of their lives.

McNamara’s comments come amid increased focus on the arrival of tourists in Ireland from the United States in particular and especially from some of the worst-affected states, like Texas, where flights have carried limited numbers of passengers to Ireland in recent days.

That tourists are permitted to arrive from such areas was described as “outrageous” and “disgraceful” on Monday by immunologist Luke O’Neill, who said it was “a surefire way to increase the chances of spikes and surges coming to Ireland”.

McNamara himself said on Twitter on Monday that it was a "farce" that, under new proposals, the government will instruct airlines to tell passengers they must quarantine upon arrival in Ireland, but would not be legally enforcing it.