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27 Jun 2022

WATCH: Limerick TD urges Covid-19 testing laboratory at UL

FINE Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell has called for a coronavirus testing laboratory to be put in place at the University of Limerick (UHL).

In his first Dail contribution since being returned at February's general election, Mr O'Donnell told Health Minister Simon Harris that the University of Limerick (UL) is "willing to provide testing and laboratory facilities on site for the community."

"Is the Department looking at regional testing? We must get back to some sense of normality in terms of business and daily life and in that regard, contact tracing and testing are key. We must get up to the 100,000 limit as quickly as possible because at the end of the day, peoples' lives are being impacted. Will the Minister look at it on a regional basis," he asked.

In response, Mr Harris pledged to discuss this with the HSE.

"We now have 27 laboratories across the country and are very eager to find any more capacity that we possibly can," the Health Minister added.

Meanwhile, Mr O'Donnell urged Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys to ensure the "liquidity crisis does not become a solvency crisis" for small businesses in Limerick and nationwide.

"That is the big challenge we face. It was also the big challenge during the most recent crisis and is the biggest one we now face. Has the Minister looked at doing sectoral plans? I believe that is the key. There must be proper preparation and examination of how various industries are impacted by social distancing and above all, to ensure that those businesses can be viable. Businesses want a sight line. They are not looking for things to be opened up overnight but want to see, over the coming months, measures put in place to ensure that a liquidity crisis does not become a solvency crisis for the SME sector," he told the Dail.

In response, Ms Humphreys warned "it will not be like flicking on a switch and everything will go back to normal."

"I am putting together a package of supports with the Minister, Deputy Donohoe. We must target the right places at the right time because this is taxpayers' money and it is not infinite. We want to get the best value for the investment that we put in," she said.

In his second speech to Dail Eireann, Green Party TD Brian Leddin urged support for farmers, especially those in the beef and dairy sectors.

"Farmers are not just producers of food, they have a vital role to play as environmental stewards in areas such as water quality, biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation. Without the cooperation of farmers, Ireland cannot reach its targets of cutting emissions in line with the Paris agreement. We need to engage with farmers and other stakeholders to review and analyse the full range of land diversification options, from horticultural production, protein crop production and organic farming to afforestation and agroforestry," he said.

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