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vaccination passes Micheál Martin retaliates after Sinn Féin leader brands hospitality plans 'discriminatory'

Mary Lou McDonald attacked the plan for vaccination or immunity passes to allow for indoor hospitality

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

The Taoiseach and the Sinn Féin leader have clashed on Covid, after Mary Lou McDonald attacked the plan for vaccination or immunity passes to allow for indoor hospitality.

She said the new regime should include everyone, and not exclude some. Micheál Martin accused her in response of always chasing votes and having had an “incoherent and inconsistent” approach since the virus arrived on our shores, now more than 500 days ago.

People needed to get back to work and to interact socially once again, Ms McDonald began, but instead of a thought-out, orderly plan to make this happen, there had been “a last-minute scramble from the three parties of Government.”

They were producing legislation to be rushed through this week “which is discriminatory, which is ill-thought-out and which many will regard as unenforceable,” she said.

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“They will force this legislation through this house with very limited debate, and that is patently wrong.”

She said she could not understand why PCR and antigen testing were not being adopted, as they offered proper and effective tools. Yet they were being kicked down the road.

“What we need is a plan to include everyone, not a plan to exclude some. That is fundamentally wrong and flawed, and it’s wrong to force it through in this rushed manner.”

She was supported by Richard Boyd Barrett of Solidarity-People Before Profit, who said the legislation was inherently discriminatory.

But the Taoiseach told Ms McDonald in reply: “I just have to say, regrettably, you and your party have decided to take a divided and divisive approach on Covid, an incoherent approach, an inconsistent approach, and whatever way the wind blows, to take that course.”

Sinn Féin was “hunting with the hounds and running with the hare,” he said.

“It’s all about votes — how do I exploit the issue today. How do I exploit Covid next week? You're not solution-driven, you're not solution-oriented. It's all about exploitation for electoral gain.

“That is the only and sole criterion that you use in your assessment of whatever Government initiatives are proposed.”

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Ms McDonald retorted that the Taoiseach “should make it your business to answer questions,” rather than making attacks on the Opposition.

But Mr Martin persisted, saying Sinn Féin was sometimes in favour of anybody coming into the country. and at other times wanted mandatory hotel quarantine.

“It’s time you got off the fence,” he said.

“You want hospitality to open up before you can do it safely.”

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