The emergency is over, now the government must relinquish all emergency powers and allow Irish restaurants, pubs, and society to fully reopen, as originally planned, according to the Rural Independent Group of TDs.
Speaking ahead of a government Motion in the Dail to extend emergency powers over indoor dining – under Part 2 of the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2021 – by a further three months, to January 9th 2022, the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath stated:
“Justification for these measures no longer exist, and the continuation of the restrictions and discriminatory segregation on indoor dining is doing more harm than good.”
“This motion completely undermines the earlier government announcement that all restrictions relating to the requirement for certification of vaccination, immunity or testing before entering a pub or restaurant, and other indoor activities, will be lifted on 22 October.”
“This extension request effectively delegates the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, the ongoing legislative power to re-impose stringent regulations on indoor hospitality. The government claim that this is a “precautionary” measure; though in reality, it is more to do with power and control representing a major change to the plan of reopening society later this month.”
“These powers are interfering with the rights of individuals and are trampling on our freedoms with little justification. For over a year and a half now, the Heath Minister has been able to enact far-reaching measures without the bother of having to persuade Dáil Éireann of their merits. It may feel fast and efficient, but it is dangerous to give any Minister, a taste of power, without the usual democratic restraints.”
“If this Motion to extend the powers until January next year is passed, no one should take it for granted that the powers will be relinquished then.”
“Over the past eighteen months human rights and equality scrutiny has been side-lined by the government, through a raft of Covid-19 ministerial regulations, which impact on the daily lives and personal freedoms of all citizens.”
“The extension of powers sought in this motion would directly impact Irish restaurants and pubs, who have already paid a very heavy price for such heavy-handed regulations over the past nineteen months.”
“Our hospitality sector should not be left in further limbo until 2022. The sector should be allowed to fully reopen on October 22nd. This sector’s total economic contribution at between €5 billion – 7.6 billion, representing between 1.5 – 2.3 per cent of GDP, employing over 260,000 people, with over 71 per cent of those working outside Dublin, cannot be derailed any further.”
“To approve this motion would add significant uncertainly to the hospitality and tourism sector and gravely impinge on the personal freedoms and equality of all citizens. Therefore, we will be voting against this Motion and we urge other Deputies to do likewise,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.
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