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Ring criticises Donnelly’s ‘mixed messages’ over vaccines


’STOP CHOPPING AND CHANGING’ Mayo TD Michael Ring has criticised the approach of Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

Edwin McGreal

MAYO Government TD Michael Ring has criticised Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly for a lack of clarity over the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Minister Donnelly suggested at the weekend that people in their 20s should be prioritised for a vaccine before rolling back on such comments.
“There has to be a consistent plan for the vaccination rollout. Minister Stephen Donnelly cannot be chopping and changing every week and causing more and more confusion,” Minister Ring told The Mayo News.
“The plan initially was for older people to receive the jab first and then down through the age groups and that is the way it has to be. Minister Donnelly came out over the weekend talking about vaccinating younger people first – that cannot happen.
“People are worried enough and panicking enough about delays and certain vaccines being stopped without more confusion being thrown in.
“The more people that get the vaccine, the better chance we have of reopening society. I’m not sure we are putting enough into the rollout. Every resource at our disposal needs to be put into it. And I agree with Professor Luke O’Neill who said everyone should be given the first jab first and then we can reopen,” said the Westport-based former minister.
Deputy Ring said that the removal of the 5km travel limit ‘eased a bit of pressure on people’ as that was an issue people were regularly bringing up with him. However, he is concerned about the long-term impact of the various lockdowns on society.
“There is going to be a huge impact on our country in the years to come. The health service is going to come under increasing pressure with the amount of people who have held off getting checked or who have had appointments delayed. A lot of people were afraid to go.
“Demand for mental health services are going to be at an all time high. We have to give mental health services the required funding to cope with the increased demand that’s coming.
“The social fabric of society has been greatly affected. I’m glad to see young people back at school because it was so hard on kids being at home and not being able to mix with their friends. It wasn’t doing them any good.
“We do need to get the economy open. We all need normality. People have found it very hard and are very down, especially since Christmas.
“The weather is helping but we need to be able to give people hope, to get the tourism sector open, to get businesses open, to get shops open,” he said.

‘Criminalising religion is totally wrong’
Mayo TD Michael Ring has also dismissed as ‘daft’ a new law which will make attending Mass a criminal offence.
The Government TD has again strongly criticised the Minister for Health after the publication of a new Covid-19 statutory instrument that makes some indoor gatherings, including masses, a criminal offence.
“I want the churches open and I don’t agree with this statutory instrument Stephen Donnelly has brought in. I do not agree with prosecuting any priest for saying Mass,” the former minister told The Mayo News.
“I am writing to the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and Stephen Donnelly telling them I want this reversed. I am totally opposed to it and it should never have been brought in.
“Criminalising religion is totally wrong. I am a Catholic myself and proud of it.
“It is an overreaction. I am furious myself and so are people, I am getting a lot of correspondence on it. It is a step too far.
“Churches have been very compliant with funerals. They could have run services with the size of some churches but no, they didn’t. They were so compliant. This is over the top,” said Minister Ring.
Archbishop Eamon Martin has called the new Covid-19 statutory instrument ‘draconian’. The new measure makes it a criminal offence to attend certain types of indoor events or gatherings, including religious services other than weddings or funerals.