28 Nov 2021

Eastwood: Firm action needed now to protect lives and livelihoods

Colum Eastwood

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood: "There is no space for political leaders to duck the difficult decisions that must be taken now."

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood has said that firm action is needed now to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and businesses from closing in the weeks ahead.

Following agreement at the Executive, the SDLP leader said that clear communication from political leaders is critical to maintain compliance with public health guidance and avoid a deterioration in the Covid-19 situation.

Mr Eastwood said that there was “no space for political leaders to duck the difficult decision” and insisted action needed to be put in place now before the current situation with the pandemic gets worse.

He said: “The message we have been hearing from health service leaders has been clear for months.

“Without urgent intervention, our hospitals will become overwhelmed and people will die needlessly. The challenge we’re facing could not be more stark.

“The SDLP has been deeply frustrated at the slowness to respond to an entirely predictable winter surge situation.

“We proposed additional measures months ago that could have eased pressure on critical services but were voted down.

“We are now in a difficult place and the Executive modelling suggests that we could be in an even worse situation in a few weeks.

“There is no space for political leaders to duck the difficult decisions that must be taken now.

“Firm action in this moment is the only way we can protect lives and livelihoods in the weeks ahead.

“That means clear communication from political leaders, refusing to give in to the naysayers and those who reject medical evidence, and clear explanations of what will happen next.

“We also need to see a stepping up of the booster programme. The effectiveness of the vaccination programme is indisputable.

We need to renew the immunity of those who have been vaccinated and roll this out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

“We have to be laser focused on the objectives of saving our health service and protecting our economy.

“The hard truth is that no one has articulated an alternative to the measures we have proposed because the only other path is to reintroduce tough restrictions that would devastate people and businesses.

“We have done everything in our power to avoid that because I don’t think our economy or our communities could cope with a return to lockdown.

“This is a moment for action. No one can be found wanting.”

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