The Taoiseach has described current guidelines and restrictions as significant, but says they’re nowhere near as severe as they might have been without the vaccine programme.
Micheal Martin is in Ennis today for the 40th annual Eamon DeVelera commemoration ceremony, which has taken place at the monument near the Courthouse, which was sculpted by Jim Connolly and unveiled back in 1981.
During his speech, the Taoiseach said de Valera built one of the great democratic careers of the 20th century and was by far the most successful Irish person in winning the free support of the Irish people, standing out in the wider democratic world. He said DeVelera rejected the sterile and destructive ideologies of the far left and right and he believed in a state which took responsibility for key elements of progress.
Micheal Martin went onto say that in very different circumstances today, Fianna Fáil remains absolutely committed to the idea of a responsive, socially and economically active government role and that the party came into government in the middle of a unique pandemic and the fastest and deepest recession ever recorded outside of wartime.
“There is no playbook to be taken off a shelf to get us out of this pandemic and we have to continually respond to new threats. There will be time in the future to look back and take a full picture, but the facts show that this government has helped ensure that Ireland has seen fewer cases and fewer deaths than most comparable countries. We’ve run one of the world’s most effective vaccination programmes, which is now tackling the challenge of distributing booster shots. And people should never forget that the vaccination programme is saving lives and central to the major return of economic activity which has been achieved. The level of cases which are being seen today is of real concern, but it’s having a much smaller impact than it would have had a year ago”.
He said “The guidelines and restrictions today are significant, but they are nowhere near as severe as they might have been absent the vaccine programme. No government in the world is in a position to promise when we can return to February 2020, but huge progress has been achieved in protecting lives and restoring the economy we rely on to fund our basic services and supports. At the same time we have to keep moving forward on other critical issues. In housing, in spite of the huge impact of the pandemic, a step-change in the provision of social housing is underway and is accelerating. In health funding for new health services is in place – and an urgent programme to tackle the pandemic-linked backlog is underway. In building a shared future for all on our island, we have begun an unprecedented programme of building new links and doing the hard work of studying and understanding critical all-island issues. And in less than a year and a half Ireland has also turned the corner on its role in tackling the existential threat of climate change. We have some of the strongest climate legislation in Europe in place, major funding for climate action secured and a shared determination to reach our challenging goals. At the start of a journey you can’t expect to agree on every element of what you will do – but the direction of travel is clear and Ireland will meet its climate challenge”
The Taoiseach went on to say that “There are unfortunately those in public life who see their role as cynically attacking everything and claiming that until everything is done nothing has been done. I’ve never agreed with this type of politics and I believe it has nothing positive to offer our country. There is a proud democratic republican tradition which has developed in our country over the past two centuries. It secured an independent state. It helped us overcome extreme poverty. It brought us into membership and leadership roles in critical international bodies. Most of all it remains a tradition which has much to offer our country.
“The life of Eamon de Valera was one of overcoming adversity and remarkable achievement. His positive legacy remains strong, and remains central to achieving progress for everyone on our island” he concluded.