Leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald has said that while Sinn Féin will support any additional restrictions imposed by government this evening, they must be matched by additional supports to help those struggling due to these restrictions.
he leader of the main opposition party said she welcomed the action from government to impose further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus but said issues like restoring the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to €350 and extending an eviction moratorium must shadow these restrictions.
Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ, McDonald said: “I absolutely accept we are in a grave situation and stronger measures are required.
“Not alone will we support this, I think it is a matter of great relief to have clarity on this. I don’t think a weekend of worry, wonder and speculation has been of any assistance to anybody so we need a decision and of course it needs to be considered and balanced.
“We have made the point time and again that additional restrictions – whatever they are – need to be matched by additional supports and protections.
“Our strong view is that acknowledging that people are going to struggle with added restrictions and then securing the roof over their heads is a good way to build that social cohesion needed from the public, and to rekindle that often-used phrase of ‘we are in this together’,” Deputy McDonald said.
The Sinn Féin TD acknowledged the six-week stint Nphet have recommended would “be challenging for all of us” but also pointed out that “as we speak the virus is growing exponentially”.
“I know across the country there are some hospitals where there isn’t huge pressure on intensive care units yet, but I also know that last week there were 13 public hospitals that had no intensive care capacity available,” Mary Lou disclosed.
Deputy McDonald said that while there are many unpredictable elements facing the country, that the virus was predictable and data compiled by Nphet should “shape all other decisions”.
“The numbers and the data don’t lie. Some things are unpredictable but what is quite predictable is that the virus spreads really quickly and exponentially. In fact, it is so predictable that experts can model where we will be down the line if we continue on the path that we are on.
“So, I think that reality shapes all other decisions,” Ms McDonald said.
The Sinn Féin leader criticised the conflicting views between north and south in relation to schools and has called for a unified message on both sides of the border on schools.
“I think it is really unhelpful, in fact I believe it is dangerous in terms of protecting public health, that we have two different approaches, strategies and in this case two bits of conflicting public health advice in terms of schools.
“We have long argued for an All-Ireland approach to this,” she said.