Government to seek extension to Covid emergency powers

The Government will seek a further extension to Covid-19 emergency powers in the Dáil today
Government to seek extension to Covid emergency powers

The Government will seek a further extension to Covid-19 emergency powers in the Dáil today.

The extension would be for a three-month period, and it would mean measures such as mask wearing and the use of vaccine passports remain law until February next year, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Government said the extension is important to deal with the unknowns of the pandemic, allowing regulations to be introduced quickly to halt the spread of the virus.

Sinn Féin will be voting against the extension.

David Cullinane, health spokesperson for the party, said they will reject the extension because it keeps all emergency powers on statute books in place with a limited number of ongoing restrictions.

"Time has long since passed that they needed to be kept," he said.

"If the minister wants an element to remain, such as locator forms and masks, he should bring forward primary legislation that deals with those restrictions alone.

"This allows the minister to set regulations without debate, a recent example being nightclubs where we had last-minute regulations and no discussion, no debate, and no scrutiny, yet we're all held to account even though we had no part in it. There can be no more blank cheques.

"Elements of public health measures should be kept but that can be done by primary regulation rather than leaving all on books."

Richard Body Barrett confirmed his party, People Before Profit, will also vote against the extension.

"They were always very draconian measures and, in the teeth of the pandemic, extraordinary measures were maybe more justified but we were always concerned about excessive powers of this sort, which can alienate people rather than encourage," he said.

The Social Democrats and Labour will decide before this morning's debate.

 

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