Taoiseach joining Covid-19 fight an 'extra pair of hands' rather than PR stunt says former Cork Sinn Féin TD

Taoiseach joining Covid-19 fight an 'extra pair of hands' rather than PR stunt says former Cork Sinn Féin TD
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets with Daiva Coghlan a key work with CRC, they are pictured in one of the Clinic rooms in the Citywest Hotel . The hotel will have the use of the 750-bedroom for self isolation.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

A FORMER Cork Sinn Féin TD has said Leo Varadkar rejoining the medical register seems to be more of a “symbolic gesture” rather than a PR stunt.

It has emerged in recent days that the Taoiseach will work one shift a week in his capacity as a doctor, doing phone assessments for Covid-19.

Jonathan O’Brien has said he’s not sure if it’s a PR stunt or not, but doesn’t care either way, and has said Mr Varadkar is sending out a message through his actions.

“It’s an extra pair of hands. It means there’s one extra doctor who gets a break, or one extra doctor who can be on a ward if he’s answering phones,” the former Cork North Central TD told The Echo.

“I think people should just take it in good faith. It’s somebody who’s actually putting their shoulder to the wheel regardless of his motivation. Everyone has a motivation for doing these things.

“Another doctor might have somebody who is cocooning and he may have come home from abroad and re-registered for his own reasons, so I don’t really think it matters if it’s a PR stunt or not,” Mr O’Brien said.

“He has more than enough on his plate at the moment, but I think him doing one shift a week answering the phone is more symbolic than anything. It’s sending out a message that everyone has a part to play, no matter how big or small it is.

“Everyone can do something, even if that is staying at home and following the guidelines, or if it’s answering phones, or delivering food parcels to people cocooning. Everyone can play some part,” Mr O’Brien added.

“I think it’s more of a symbolic gesture than anything, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a PR stunt to be honest.” Mr Varadkar’s party, however, while trying to form a Government has refused to engage with Sinn Féin - something Jonathan O’Brien condemned. He said he believes it’s wrong for Sinn Féin to be left out of these discussions with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

“I think everyone should be talking to everyone and trying to form a Government, including Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael talking to us. We’re willing to talk to them. I don’t think it’s good enough for anyone to say, particularly now at a time of crisis: ‘We need a Government, but we’re not going to talk to that party.’ “I just don’t think it’s a tenable position to hold, to be honest.”

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