TD Paul Murphy accuses Goverment of "sleep-walking" country into a Christmas lockdown
"It is groundhog day."
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has accused the Government of "sleep-walking" Ireland into a lockdown at Christmas.
The TD was speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, where he criticised the Government's management of the pandemic.
"We are in a crisis situation again with Covid... Our ICU capacity in danger of being overrun, the threat of Covid spreading into nursing homes yet again," he said.
"And the Government once again sleep-walking us into lockdown at Christmas. It is groundhog day."
Murphy took issue with reports that the Government was taken aback at the country's current Covid situation.
"Why on earth are you surprised, Taoiseach? Look at the decisions that your Government made which brought us to this point," he said.
He accused the Government of failing to increase ICU capacity to the necessary levels; of refusing to introduce "anything other than guidance" on the issue of ventilation in schools, workplaces and public transport and for abandoning contract tracing and testing in schools.
"And so, here we are again, utterly predictable and utterly disastrous," he said.
"To avoid lockdowns, it is not enough to rely on the vaccines, crucial though they are. We need the vaccines plus strategy based on the principles of prevent, vaccinate, control.
"At this late stage Taoiseach, will the Government finally take action to avoid the current crisis becoming a calamity?"
In response, the Taoiseach said the public health advice has been "consistent from the get-go that our schools are safe places in respect of the management of Covid-19".
"There are 35,000 CO2 monitors issued to our schools and they are in use," he responded.
"The advice is if children are symptomatic, do not send children to school."
He also said he did not accept Murphy's criticisms as valid in regards to testing, stating that Ireland has one of the best PCR systems globally and has expanded antigen testing.
"The issue is when you open up, socialisation does grow and it does create opportunities for a variant as transmissible as Delta," he explained.
"But we had to give working people and people generally the opportunity to go back to work.
"By reopening the economy, we've created thousands of jobs.
"The situation now is, however, as we move into the winter season... we do need to take the impending threat very seriously.
"Collectively, as a society, we do need to reduce socialisation."
The Taoiseach also accused Murphy of being inconsistent, stating: "I know Deputy, you opposed and you were opposing the extension of the legislation that will enable us to continue with our management of Covid-19."