Source: People Before Profit Ireland
As Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill says the Executive won’t heed doctors’ calls for restrictions and the Executive prepares to partially re-open the hospitality sector, People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll has issued a fresh warning to the Executive over its planned course of action – ‘shift priorities or risk lives’.
Mr Carroll said:
“The Stormont Executive’s disastrous COVID strategy has exacerbated both the health crisis and economic ruin for many sections of society. Their ‘living with COVID’ strategy inevitably counterposes people’s health with their jobs and livelihoods.
“Let’s be clear, Stormont Ministers are set to roll back on restrictions because they are too tight-fisted to adequately support workers and small businesses until this virus can be controlled.
”The Executive must immediately shift its priority to reaching elimination levels of COVID, as achieved by countries like New Zealand, or risk more lives being lost. If cities like Liverpool can roll out mass testing of citizens, why can’t Belfast or Derry? As we climb beyond 1000 deaths, this couldn’t be more urgent.
”I am deeply concerned that the Executive are choosing to shirk the advice of medical and scientific experts. Michelle O’Neill herself said Minister’s will not accept doctors’ call for more restrictions.
“O’Neill, and the wider Executive, risk making the same catastrophic mistakes made during the first wave; restrictions lifted too soon, before it is safe and before a proper trace and trace system has been implemented, while the virus is once again surging.
“Moreover, it is abhorrent that the hospitality sector’s plight is being utilised to justify re-opening workplaces when the sector being treated disgracefully by Stormont Ministers.
“The Executive would do better to properly fund those in the sector who have been impacted financially by the virus, while allowing them to stay safe until we have reached elimination levels.
“Unite the Union, who represents hospitality workers, have called for a sector specific financial package which I have endorsed. The sector has been held to ransom during this crisis, expected to shut and open it’s doors at the click of a finger, many plunged into unemployment and owners in financial difficulty.
“The Executive’s approach is not sustainable, sensible or safe. A zero-Covid strategy is the only way forward and it will save both lives and money in the long term. Time to put health before profits and shore up the necessary financial supports to do this.”