Easing of public health restrictions welcome, but a lot of work left to do - Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the announcement of the easing of public health restrictions today. She has said, however, that there are a number of outstanding issues to be resolved in the coming period.
"What people have been seeking over the past number of weeks is clarity and a return to some level of normality in their daily lives, so much of what has been announced today in respect of the easing of public health restrictions is to be welcomed.
"The early easing of restrictions will be good news for those in the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors, and will be good for jobs and the incomes of workers and their families.
"For those that can't return to work, we need certainty for them and that is why we want the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment to remain in place until the end of the year. Doing so would be good for the economy, for workers and for families.
"We have concerns that fresh anomalies may arise in this regard in relation to seasonal, hospitality and retail workers, as well as those in receipt of both wages and welfare supports, and that this will see tens of thousands of workers suffer an unfair loss in income.
"There are a number of other issues we still need to get right, and chief amongst them is the issue of testing and tracing. This is critical for dealing with clusters and to ensure that we don’t have a second round of restrictive measures introduced. We also need to maximise all-Ireland co-operation so we are easing restrictions in a similar timeframe.
"Childcare remains an issue that needs to be urgently addressed. Large numbers of people are returning to work next week and there is no childcare provision available for the vast majority of them.
"The government has made a mess of this issue from the start and they need to get it right now - this is vital to make sure workers can return to employment, as well as to ensure that childcare providers can remain open and that parents can access childcare that is affordable."