Fine Gael Senator calls for exemption to 5km travel limit for golfers and sea swimmers

Independent Senator says Covid-19 restrictions are a ‘dystopian vision of living’

An appeal has been made in the Seanad for the Cabinet Covid-19 subcommittee to consider permitting golf courses to reopen to allow golf enthusiasts to play a round in pairs.

Fine Gael Senator Seán Kyne, who made the appeal, also called for the Cabinet group, which was meeting on Monday evening, to allow an extension of the 5km travel limit from home for golfers and sea swimmers.

Mr Kyne said the coronavirus restrictions had had a major impact on sea swimmers, who were used to travelling to the sea for their swim but are now prevented from doing so if it is outside their 5km zone.

He said that “playing golf is important, particularly for retirees”, and appealed to the Cabinet subcommittee to “consider this matter because many people, particularly retirees, like to play a round of golf in pairs”.


Meanwhile, Independent Senator Sharon Keogan hit out at the coronavirus restrictions and described the Government's current Living with Covid strategy as a "fraud" and an "abject failure".

“Is being fined by gardaí for going for a walk in the hills or swimming in the sea living with Covid?” she asked, adding that “to my mind, this is a dystopian vision of living”.

The Senator, from Co Meath, said people are not being allowed to live. “It is not right to permit the country to be ruled as if we were a hospital ward and her people to be treated like they were all vectors of a disease.”

Ms Keogan said that “even the term ‘strategy’ is a misnomer. It gives the impression of a plan that was fully thought through, is nuanced, sophisticated and takes account of its consequences, and provides predictable clarity and stability. This muddled approach by the Government is anything but.”

Describing the strategy as dubious, she said it was having a “terrible effect on the health and mental health of this nation”, with “ballooning public debt and the prospects of businesses collapsing”.

‘Lack of coherent strategy’

Labour Seanad leader Ivana Bacik also raised concerns about what she described as a "lack of a coherent strategy on Covid from Government".

She reiterated her party’s calls for a “more aggressive suppression strategy”, the introduction of a much tighter level of control on the level of people coming into the State, the speeding up of mandatory hotel quarantine measures, and the need to ensure people feel there is a strategy for coming out of this and for ensuring that this is indeed our last Covid-19 lockdown.

She said there was “increasing frustration, an increasing drift back into offices as people feel a lack of hope for the future and the lack of any clarity in communication from Government on how we progress our way out of this awful pandemic”.

People “are deeply frustrated when they see others flying in and out, apparently without sanction, yet they are subject to such severe restrictions and curtailments of their civil liberties here”, she added.

She welcomed the return to school on Monday of pupils with additional needs and special classes, but she said there had to be a more coherent and clear strategy on the return to school of all students.

“We are again seeing mixed messaging and a lack of clarity around dates. We really need to ensure children know when they are coming back.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times