17 Aug 2022

Local councillor says 'all-Ireland strategy' needed to deal with the impacts of coronavirus

'We should not have a situation where the North and South is bound by separate guidelines'

Shaun Harkin

Shaun Harkin who is to contest the General Election in Foyle for People Before Profit.

A Derry councillor has said that an 'all-Ireland strategy' is required to deal with the health and economic impacts of coronavirus.

People Before Profit Cllr Shaun Harkin said: "The Tories have already shown far too much complacency in responding to the Coronavirus threat. Cheltenham races were cancelled in 2001 because of foot-and-mouth disease - but were allowed to go ahead now when there is a much greater public health risk.  

"Multinational airlines and corporations should not be allowed to dictate the response to what the World Health Organisation has declared a pandemic. We need a response that genuinely puts people before profit. Government resources must be made available and guided by the leading medical advice - not by airline CEOs worried about how much profit shareholders will receive. The priority must be protecting communities. 

"People Before Profit has called for the Stormont Executive to demand Westminster immediately establish a Coronavirus emergency relief fund. If Boris Johnson refuses to act with the necessary urgency the Minister for Finance should source funding at once."

He continued: "An emergency relief fund making sick pay available to all workers should already have been set up. Workers on zero hour contracts, in the gig economy or with bogus self-employment status will feel pressure to work even if they don't feel well. Making sick pay available to all workers protects the most vulnerable. 

"Other countries have already begun a period of rent freezes, tax breaks and mortgage relief. Stormont must do the same and more.

"An emergency relief fund will make sure our health services are funded to deal with the crisis. Money should be made no object to cleanse public areas and make soap/hand sanitation available in as many public places as possible. Our health service must be supplied with all necessary equipment. Immediate audits should be conducted and additional resources put in place where necessary without delay. 

"Any product that can reduce the spread of the Coronavirus should be made available to the public free of charge. Action should be taken on price gouging with price caps. 

"At Stormont, in the Dáil and in local councils North and South People Before Profit representatives are calling for an all-Ireland approach to containing the spread of Coronavirus. The work of public health bodies across the island must be integrated to deal with the crisis. Stormont and the Dáil should create an emergency committee to coordinate containment and response across Ireland.  

"We should not have a situation where the North and South is bound by separate guidelines. This is completely impractical and would, especially in border counties like Derry and Donegal, put lives at further risk.

"Saving lives now requires a shift in political will. People Before Profit will work with others to make sure government resources are put on war footing to limit the impact of the Coronavirus as much as possible." 

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