Limerick TD wants army brought in to enforce level 5 Covid-19 restrictions

Nick Rabbitts & Donal O'Regan

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Nick Rabbitts & Donal O'Regan

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Limerick TD wants army brought in to enforce level 5 Covid-19 restrictions

The gardai provided Covid-19 checkpoints on various roads - but Richard O'Donoghue wants the army doing this instead

LIMERICK TD Richard O’Donoghue has called for the army to be brought in to enforce level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

As the country gears up for the most severe of restrictions, including the closure of pubs, and non-essential retail, the Independent deputy also criticised the “minority of people who thought they were above getting sick” and breached social distancing restrictions.

Mr O’Donoghue said as a result of gardai patrolling roads, complaints of anti-social behaviour have grown up.

“What we are hearing at the moment is while guards are out doing checkpoints, more anti-social behaviour is being reported. They don’t have the amount of recruits they need to do both. Personally, I feel they should bring n the army to do a dual approach at checkpoints and allow the gardai to remain in their station,” he said.

He said it’s a pity that a “minority” of people did not behave responsibly.

“The people being punished are those who did behave themselves. It was a minority of people who thought they were above getting sick and had no regard for their own families, or friends that have underlying conditions or are elderly. The knock-on effect is they are closing businesses. We’ve a minority of people who have no respect for themselves or the people around them, and that’s why we are at level 5,” he said.

“They are not all children. They blame the children, and the young adults having house parties. There are plenty of people in their 30s or 40s who have forgotten to grow up and be responsible. I’m asking people to grow up, and protect the people around you, and we can get back to where we need to, so people can enjoy Christmas,” the TD concluded.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell has called for the National Public Health Emergency Team – or Nphet – to have more members from different sections of society.

“We need to look at both expanding the terms of reference of Nphet and expanding its membership. I think we have to look in terms of impact on the economy. Nphet have a remit looking at the impact on the health system. But the membership of Nphet needs to be broadened and I think the terms of reference of Nphet needs to be broadened. We need to look at a whole of economy, a whole of society approach in terms of looking at the virus,” he said.

Mr O’Donnell has discussed the matter directly with government.

“Nphet do very good work.  But if we are looking at living with the virus – and we are now in that space – the terms of reference and the membership of Nphet needs to be expanded,” the City TD added.

Elsewhere, local Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan said An Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s announcement was light on detail.

He tweeted: “What is the plan? Government need to explain what it is - we get to Christmas - what then? Will we remain with no proper checks or little follow up? Will we have proper test and trace? People are exhausted. Can’t go lockdown - emerge - lockdown again after Christmas.”

High-profile Independent councillor Emmett O’Brien has strongly criticised the introduction of level 5 restrictions from midnight tomorrow.

“Level 5 restrictions imposed by public representatives and advised by public officials in Nphet who don’t have to worry about where the next penny comes from to keep a business open, staff employed and food on the table will see off whatever bit of remaining social fabric and cohesion there is in this country. I sense immense anger from the people towards the government,” he said.

He said the rate of Covid-19 infection is now “manageable”.

“No research data has been taken to measure the impact on mental health, domestic violence, undiagnosed illnesses outside of borrowing billions to keep a battered economy alive. Until all people share the stark consequences of a lockdown and don’t look upon it as an enforced but State sponsored holiday we will not get the proper buy in from the people to change their behaviour. To impose Level 5 on top of Europe’s most stringent restrictions in any case without a clear vision for what’s happening next Spring is State tyranny to control the people and keep us in a constant state of fear and trepidation,” he said in a strongly worded statement.