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Deputy Michael McNamara

McNamara slams Covid policy and the government

A VEHEMENT critic of the State’s approach to dealing with Covid-19 for some months, Clare TD Michael McNamara has again slammed the latest policy move, as Ireland switches to so-called level five restrictions.

“I don’t know really what these levels mean, how we arrived in this paradigm of levels that determine what constraints we have on our lives, our ability to earn a livelihood and our basic right to liberty. I don’t know how we ended up here and I don’t know what purpose it serves,” he said this week.

The Scariff man said that Ireland has had the toughest restrictions in Europe for months now, and it has not succeeded in suppressing the virus.

He questioned how justifiable imposing significant restrictions is. “How much do you detain somebody, an ordinary healthy person, who doesn’t suffer from any mental illness, for how long is it legitimate to detain them for their own protection?”

Mr McNamara said that while very severe restrictions were imposed in China, where Covid-19 emerged, China is a country where people cannot even choose their own government, clearly not a free country.

More individual responsibility needs to be afforded here, he feels. “At some point aren’t we going to have to trust people? Where does this end? How does this end? Are we going to be restricted indefinitely? Are we going to be restricted until there’s a vaccine?Then are we all going to have to take the vaccine? Where can this end if we continue on the road we’re on? We know that there are risks attendant in various activities and various types of behaviour. At the end of the day aren’t we going to have to trust people? If we stop trusting people where does it end?”.

But isn’t it necessary to seek to suppress the virus lest Ireland’s creaking hospital system become overwhelmed? “I’d say two or three things with regard to that. What has the Government done in the last six months to increase that capacity? You can print this, they have done f**k all.

“We were told over the weekend that there was no more capacity in the ICU in Cork, but that wasn’t because of Covid, there were only one or two Covid patients in Cork, the lack of capacity wasn’t because of Covid. If we find this miracle vaccine and if everybody agrees to take it or is pinned down or corraled and injected with it, and our hospital is still overrun, as it is every year, are we now going to lock down because of that?”

Ultimately life has to continue despite the risk posed by Covid, he feels. “I accept that there is a balance to be struck, but how can we give up living because of the fear of dying?” Mr McNamara asked, rhetorically.

He feels that Ireland is now very much an outlier in how it is tackling the virus. “Italy isn’t going into another lockdown, Spain isn’t even. Argentina is, where their economy is falling apart and they have hundreds of thousands of people on the streets protesting.”

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.