I think that it is vital that the Dáil sits this Thursday and continues to sit during this time of crisis. Indeed it was agreed unanimously at the Business Committee of the Dáil last Thursday that the Dáil would sit this week and that TDs would be given an opportunity to raise issues in relation to health and social welfare. I am in receipt of representations on a wide range of issues which must be addressed by government and the Dáil is the most appropriate forum to raise these issues particularly in light of the fact that Parliamentary Questions have been suspended indefinitely.
The comments by the Labour Party that the Dáil is non-essential are deeply troubling. While it is true that legislating is an integral part of the role of the Dáil, equally important is our function in holding the government and institutions to account. This role is vital given the extraordinary emergency legislation passed by the Dáil in the last two weeks.
If we expect a range of people to turn up for work then the least we can do as TDs is to attend the Dáil, albeit in restricted numbers and restricted times. There is no other forum for TDs to raise questions and draw attention to the issues arising on the ground, including the delays in testing and testing results, the absence of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the anomalies that have arisen in relation to social welfare payments.
Now more than ever we need to protect and use our democratic institutions for the common good.