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'show respect' Eamon Ryan warns against 'flight shaming' people returning for Christmas

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

TRANSPORT Minister Eamon Ryan has warned against 'flight shaming' people who travel home for Christmas from abroad.

Up to 50,000 people are expected to make the trip home to Ireland by air for Christmas amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Ryan said the Government is not encouraging people to return to Ireland but does recognise some will have to travel.

He said it could be someone with a lonely parent, people who have been away for a very long time or those that have to travel for work reasons and "What we shouldn't be doing is shaming those people".

Mr Ryan made the remarks on Newstalk Radio's On the Record with Gavan Reilly show.

The Transport minister said that prospective air passengers are the best people to make the call on whether they really need to travel and he doesn't think it's up to the Government.

He said he checked with DAA - the agency that runs Dublin Airport - and the forward bookings for flights are "very low" at about 10pc of what would usually be occurring.

"The reality is there'll be far less people traveling I think that's a good thing."

He conceded that more people may book flights at short notice but that people will make their own call on whether it's right and safe to travel particularly if they're coming from high risk countries.

Mr Ryan added: "They won't want to bring home the risk of the virus to their own loved ones.

"So I think people will have to use their own judgment.

"And I think we should respect that.

"We're not promoting a huge amount of people returning. We don’t want to see a big influx because we do have to manage this.”

He also said that people who travel between counties once the restrictions on this are lifted on December 18 shouldn't be shamed either adding: "I think we saw this summer [when such travel was allowed] that we could actually manage".

Mr Ryan conceded that a second wave of the virus hit and there is the possibility of a third wave in January.

But he said trying to blame individuals or sectors of society doesn't increase safety.

"I think we've avoided that to date. We should continue to avoid it," he said.

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