‘Discriminatory’ legislation will undermine pandemic solidarity – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week hit out at government legislation which will prevent unvaccinated people from accessing in-door hospitality. Deputy Carthy described the new law as ‘discriminatory’ and a ‘kick in the teeth’ to young people. He also said that the law will undermine the solidarity that has been so important in tackling the virus to this point.
Teachta Carthy told the Dáil:
“I will be opposing this legislation.
“One of the phenomenal outworkings of the societal response to Covid-19 was the sense of solidarity we have seen through the most part of the past 18 months. People have been looking out for each other, supporting our front-line workers and understanding and appreciating the sacrifices others have made. This sense of solidarity has permeated through the major part of our society.
“Despite being demonised at different points during the pandemic, young people were to the fore in that regard. The solidarity displayed by young people during the pandemic has been phenomenal. Consider what they have sacrificed in terms of school closures, missing out on college life and social life at really important times, employment and future employment prospects, travel, love and all those things that are part of those crucial, formative years. These were all sacrificed and there has been a cost to their mental health as a result.
“Our young people have made real sacrifices. They were not the same sacrifices as those made by the people who lost loved ones or endured serious physical illness but they were sacrifices nonetheless.
“We should commend the young people of Ireland on making those sacrifices. They did it for their grannies, for their parents, for their elderly neighbours and for the vulnerable in our communities.
“My biggest fear is that the Minister has brought forward legislation that trashes all of the sacrifice and effort our young people made and spits in their faces. In the context of those who suffered so much through mental anguish, it was young people I think, who were most affected as a result of all that has happened over the past year. I have seen it in my family, community, town and constituency.
“Now, the Minister is saying that those people are to be discriminated against.
“I want to see hospitality open for all. I want to see it happening in a safe manner and I want to ensure that when we open a service, whatever it may be, it will remain open. On all of those rhetorical points, I am at one with everybody in this House.
“But, what if we have to, at some further stage, bring forward new proposals for further restrictions? What if there is an “echo” or a “falcon” variant or whatever the next name is? What if there is a variant that beats the vaccine?
“What if we have to go back and ask people to make sacrifices again? How can we possibly look young people in the eye and ask them to do that all over again when we have decided to bring forward legislation that discriminates against them after they did it once before? We cannot.
“That is why I am so angry about this legislation. That is why so many people are frustrated. They cannot believe that the Government has the audacity to do this to them, when they have no choice. Most of them will receive the vaccine when it is available to them but it is not available to most of them right now.
“Young people are expected to work in the bars and the restaurants and to wait on people who were vaccinated but they are unable to enjoy the same services themselves.
“That is plainly, utterly wrong.
“We all recall the summer recess last year and the infamous “golfgate”. Do government members remember the anger that arose among the public about that?
“It was not because a group of people met in a hotel and had a meal and a pile of pints. It was because most people were not allowed to do that and they abided by the rules. What really angered people was the sense that there was one rule for some and another rule for others.
“Essentially, Government has brought forward legislation that legalises one rule for some and another rule for everybody else. That is not good enough. I fear that the Minister is undermining that great sense of solidarity we should be so proud of among the young and old across society.
“The Minister will be responsible for that. I hope he recognises that and realises what he is doing with this legislation. He is serving precisely nobody well”.