Sinn Féin will continue to be guided by public health advice – O’Neill
Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill tonight said that saving lives, reducing the spread of the virus, protecting the capacity of the health service and providing support for workers and their families will continue to be the party’s guiding principles in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking after today’s meeting of the northern Executive Michelle O’Neill said:
“Today, we have been told that a further 15 people have lost their lives to COVID. And our hospitals are running at 101 per cent capacity this evening
“Over the last four days of talks, my priority - guided and shaped by expert public health advice - has been about reaching the right decision in order to:
- Save lives
- Protect the already pressurised health service
- Protect our hard pressed doctors and nurses and health workers dealing with this pandemic
- And support workers and families
“The Executive has reached a decision. Sinn Féin will respect that democratic decision but it is not something my party could support.
“The Executive made a public commitment on decision making in May this year. We agreed that controlling transmission and protecting healthcare capacity would be our guiding principles when considering specific restrictions.
“I remain committed to that.
"The expert health advice from the Chief Medical Officer this week could not have been clearer that any move away from a two-week extension of the current interventions would result in ‘excess deaths’.
“ That’s stark. It means more lives being lost.
“I am hugely disappointed that a voting mechanism designed to protect minorities was abused by the DUP to block the implementation of public health measures during this global pandemic.
“Our situation remains fragile. Our priority is to protect our hospitals and health service and will continue to keep this situation under review. We want people back to work but first we must get the virus under control.
“I have made it clear the Executive needs a strategy to break the cycle of lockdowns and circuit breakers.
“Evidence and international best practice shows that investment in developing a first-class ‘Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support’ programme, bolstered by mass rapid testing is the most effective way to suppress the spread of the virus.
“We must have financial supports in place for those who are forced to self-isolate, for workers and families, those on low incomes and zero hour contracts, those most disproportionately affected by this pandemic. That remains my goal moving forward.”