Taoiseach says State ‘not found wanting’ in supporting businesses during Covid

Martin says current wave of infection has stabilised but cautions trend can flip

Taoiseach Micheál Martin stopped short of offering a commitment to his party to restore full wage subsidies to impacted sectors. Photograph: Alan Betson

Taoiseach Micheál Martin stopped short of offering a commitment to his party to restore full wage subsidies to impacted sectors. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government has “not been found wanting” in its support to businesses during the pandemic but stopped short of offering a commitment to his party to restore full wage subsidies to impacted sectors.

A motion at seeking the reinstatement of the full EWSS for the tourism and hospitality sector was tabled at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting by TDs Cathal Crowe, Christopher O’Sullivan and John Lahart as well as senators Pat Casey and Ollie Crowe.

Sources said Jim O’Callaghan, Cormac Devlin, John McGuinness, Timmy Dooley and Gerry Horkan all spoke in support of the motion.

It was passed by the party but Mr Martin offered no commitment that the rate will be restored.

In his general remarks to the meeting he said the Government has “not been found wanting on business supports to keep jobs and businesses intact.”

He also highlighted a “record return on employment” and CSO data showing the recovery of the economy.

Mr Martin also said: “We are keeping supports under constant review and look forward to meeting the sector in the coming days.”

The Taoiseach is to meet representatives of the hospitality industry on Friday.

Mr Martin also told the meeting that the current wave of Covid-19 has stabilised with cases, hospitalisation and the number of patients in intensive care units levelling off.

However, he cautioned there are high numbers of Delta cases and the trend can flip in the wrong direction very quickly so he remains concerned.

He told his party he spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday evening and she said it will take two weeks to fully assess the impact of the Omicron variant on transmissibility, severity and vaccine efficacy.

The Commission has set up a group to assess the situation and there is ongoing contact with vaccine manufacturers.

Mr Martin is said to have told the meeting: “We must keep calm, remain cautious and await the science” and that a combination of vigilance, reduced socialisation and an accelerated booster campaign are needed.

Mr Martin outlined how the impact of the Delta wave has been severe across Europe as there are still 150 million people who are not vaccinated. He said there is a vaccination rate of more than 93 per cent of adults in Ireland and between 10,000 and 11,000 have come forward for a first dose here over the last week.