Micheál Martin says he is not ashamed at government's handling of Covid-19 crisis in Ireland 1 week ago

Micheál Martin says he is not ashamed at government's handling of Covid-19 crisis in Ireland

“Over time, people can reflect on this and make their observations and conclusions.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has refuted suggestions the government should be “ashamed” at the way it has presided over the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland.

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The Covid-19 situation has escalated into a crisis since Christmas, with Ireland going from having the lowest infection rate in Europe at the beginning of December to having the highest infection rate in Europe in the last week.

As of Sunday night, 1,499 people in Ireland were hospitalised with Covid-19, while daily case numbers have exceeded 5,000 in six of the last seven days.

In fact, the number of cases reported in Ireland in the last two weeks alone (61,484) is greater than the total number of cases reported up to 30 October (61,059).

Asked by Pat Kenny on Newstalk on Monday if he and the government are ashamed about what they have presided over, Martin responded: “I’m not. I think that’s a very unfair presentation and assertion in the sense that I’m very concerned about it."

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to get the numbers down, to get infection reduced in the community and to deal with this in a very resolute and firm way,” Martin added, saying that has Ireland has “always responded effectively” to the various waves and surges of Covid-19 since it impacted on Ireland early last year.

The Taoiseach also rejected suggestions of mixed messaging surrounding public health measures and denied that the easing of restrictions before Christmas was a “trade-off” for the subsequent lockdown.

Martin argued that Ireland had entered into a “perfect storm” regarding the circulation of the virus in the community, with socialisation over Christmas and the presence of the UK variant of the virus – which he said was detected in 45% of virus samples and was “a significant factor in the current surge  – contributing to the huge rise in cases.

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“Our focus is in getting the current wave under control, getting the numbers down… relieving the pressure on our hospitals and protecting the vulnerable and elderly in our community. That’s my entire focus now,” Martin added.

“Over time, people can reflect on this and make their observations and conclusions.”