Cork ITAA President says Tánaiste's comments on traveling home for Christmas premature 

Cork ITAA President says Tánaiste's comments on traveling home for Christmas premature 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has advised people not to book flights home for Christmas yet Photograph:

CORK people will be home for Christmas, Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) president Michael Doorley has said.

Speaking toThe Echo, Mr Doorley, who is also the MD of Shandon Travel, said while there is not the intense demand of years gone by, there is a steady flow of people booking one-way flights home to Ireland for Christmas.

Mr Doorley was speaking after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned people not to book flights home to Ireland for Christmas just yet.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil it is “too soon” to book flights home, saying: “I think in terms of people booking flights to come home for Christmas, I’d advise them not to do that at the moment.

“I know that’s difficult, I know that’s tough, but Christmas is six weeks away and it’s too soon now to be booking flights to come home.”

Mr Doorley said it was a bit premature for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to advise people not to come home for Christmas.

“I think people will come anyway,” said Mr Doorley. “That is what we are seeing.”

“There is going to be a demand for people coming home. No mad rush, but steady demand. The flights are there. That is the first thing, and people want to come home. I think the Tánaiste is being cautious, but it is too early to tell people not to come.”

The Cork based ITAA president said the majority of bookings being made by people abroad at the moment were being made from European destinations.

He said another interesting trend was people booking one-way flights home to Ireland.

Cork woman Maebh Barry is one of a number of Irish people living abroad who is hoping to come home for Christmas.

"There’s a mixture of anxiety of the unknown and excitement to see my family,” she said. “I think you have to weigh up the risk with the ‘reward’ in relation to travelling home for Christmas. The prospect of not going home for Christmas is really hard to think about for my family and I.”

Cork Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that people are hoping for some respite over the Christmas period.

“We don’t know when the full picture of the next stage will be announced,” he said.

“Credit to Cork people for the past few weeks, there has been a huge effort to bring the incidence rate down, and that has to be acknowledged.

“People are hoping for some respite over the Christmas period. Most people are realistic and know it is not going to be a normal Christmas, but people want to see family.

“They might not have seen their parents in many months due to being abroad or in a different county.

“We need the application of common sense, many deserve to get home for Christmas.

“I think if we can get the airport testing right that will resolve a lot, and facilitate people coming home for Christmas.”

It comes as questions continue as to how Ireland will exit level 5 restrictions next month, and while the Taoiseach has said that the target is to return to level 3 restrictions from December 1, there are some calls for level 2 restrictions to be put in place instead.

Following the Tánaiste’s comments in the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Michaél Martin said: “We are doing a lot of analysis of the data, sector by sector, to facilitate and inform the approach to exiting level 5.

“We want to give indications so there will be some degree of preparation on the part of those who want and need to be prepared if we are in a good position at the end of this month.”

Last night, chief medical officer Tony Holohan said that the National Public Health Emergency Team would be giving formal consideration to where Ireland is at from an epidemiology point of view when it meets on November 26.

“Obviously, Government will have a decision to make based on the public health advice and all the other considerations it has to have, and at the moment we have a 5km travel limit in place and restrictions in relation to confining activity outside of the home,” he said.

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