Government now using pandemic to suppress parliamentary and public scrutiny – The Rural Independent Group

Speaking this evening (Wednesday 8th December) the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mc Grath, stated:

 “It is detestable that the Taoiseach would rule out the Oireachtas pre-legislative scrutiny of all emergency Covid legislative measures that impact the lives and livelihoods of all citizens.”

 “Such emergency powers have allowed the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, to sign 171 stringent regulations into law in dark rooms, away from the glare of any oversight or public scrutiny. Giving such draconian and wide-ranging powers to one Minister, especially while presiding over a spiralling crisis spanning the entire public healthcare system, is dangerous.”

 “Arguably, not since independence has a Taoiseach and a Health Minister purposefully continued undermining the rights and freedoms of citizens, based on a power trip of political motives rather than on any published scientific evidence.”

 “For instance, one of these regulations pertaining to vaccine passports, signed by the Minister in July 2021, disproportionately affects the fundamental rights of unvaccinated citizens. Despite this, the Minister and the government have failed to execute a review or publish the evidence proving the extent to which the Covid pass system has curbed Covid-19.”

 “Again, today at leaders’ questions in the Dáil, I requested the Taoiseach to produce evidence for the Covid pass system. Unsurprisingly, Michael Martin failed to provide any such evidence or point to the basis for the government’s discriminatory pass system.”

 “This tells us that the decision is about politics rather than science, as there is no justification for the measure scientifically or logically. It is about maintaining power and control while abusing such leverage and undermining the entire foundations of our country’s democratic foundations.”

 “Critically, unlike many other EU countries, Ireland’s vaccine passport does not include an option for negative testing. This omission is particularly perplexing given our extremely high vaccination rate, and the fact that the underpinning legislation provides for the possibility that testing could be included in the system.”

 “The EU regulation, underpinning the certificates, implicitly emphasises the necessity of ensuring no direct or indirect discrimination against persons who are unvaccinated, for example, due to medical reasons, children and those devoid of opportunity or choose otherwise.”

 “Yet, despite even the protections built into the EU passport mechanism, the Irish government has indiscriminately signed into law a deeply intrusive, unsupported and discriminatory passport pass system, that will now be in place until at least June 2022.”

 “My colleagues and I in the Rural Independent Group initially supported government restrictions to counteract the pandemic, when other options were unavailable and time was limited. However, now almost two years into the pandemic, this administration’s only recourse falls back on extending these powers, thus failing to improve hospital capacity and avoiding alternative options.”

 “The government has repeatedly shown that they are willing to listen to no one. Their “divide and conquer strategy” is undermining the social solidarity of our country, and we refuse to support such a divisive and totalitarian approach,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.