Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has questioned Tánaiste Leo Varadkar about Ryanair’s announcement of 8 new routes from Belfast, commencing on June 1st.
The Clare T.D. highlighted how the State’s existing quarantine Covid travel strategy is being undermined by the different strategy that has been adopted in Northern Ireland.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Michael McNamara said: “The only announcement of new flight routes out of Ireland for the past 12 months have been out of Northern Ireland. Today, eight new routes were announced out of Belfast City Airport by Ryanair, which, along with Aer Lingus, has largely moved its operations out of this jurisdiction.
In this State, we have had only base closures and flight route cancellations. Is any of this ringing alarm bells for the Government? Is the Tánaiste concerned the net effect of the restrictions the Government has introduced, which are limited to ports and airports ,is merely to drive up business for Northern Irish airports at the expense of airports in this State and the people they employ?”
In response, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “I thank the Deputy for his question. It does ring alarm bells for the Government, quite frankly. Here in the Republic, south of the Border, anybody arriving through a port or airport has to have a negative PCR test and must quarantine at home or, in some cases, will soon have to quarantine in a hotel. There is a very different approach in Northern Ireland.
For people arriving there from Britain and, in the future, from other parts of Europe and other parts of the world, potentially, there is no requirement they show a negative PCR test and no requirement for mandatory quarantine at home or in a hotel. There are members of the Sinn Féin Party in the Chamber and I ask them to use their influence in the Northern Ireland Executive, which is co-chaired by that party, to change this policy.”
Deputy Michael McNamara replied: “I am talking about legislation in this State, from this Government.”
The Tánaiste said: “The reason this is happening is we have a different regime south of the Border. We have decided to restrict international travel and aviation severely on public health grounds.”