Last week, we had the debacle around the Government's green list. Its travel advice was, and is, confused and ambiguous and relies on citizens using their best judgment. Personally, I would prefer that nobody travel abroad this year but the fact remains that we have been given advice only, not a firm instruction, much less a legal requirement. Despite this, the Government has taken it upon itself to send officials to our airports seeking out people on the Covid payment who have decided, in their best judgment, to travel. One section of our population is being singled out without notice or warning. On the basis of confused advice, the Government wants to punish and make an example of people who lost their jobs because it closed down the economy to deal with the pandemic.
Many of these are the same people who were excluded from the Government's stay and spend initiative, so they will not be helped to holiday at home. Many had booked and paid for their holidays months ago but, because of the Government's ambiguous travel advice, they may not qualify for a refund and may lose substantial sums of money. In a final insult to these people, they will be penalised if they do travel, even to one of the green list countries. Every which way they turn, they lose.
Will the Taoiseach acknowledge that his Government's travel advice does not have the force of law? Will he accept that the travel advice is confused as to the difference between green and non-green countries and on whether one needs to restrict one's movement on return? Will he accept that the Government has uniquely chosen those who have lost their jobs for punishment should they choose to travel abroad? I want the Taoiseach to accept this is wrong and, more importantly, to reverse this decision.
I understand this decision was incorporated in social welfare guidance early on Monday morning, just 24 hours after the Tánaiste set out his position on RTÉ. The Tánaiste also claimed that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection gets information from the airports. At this morning's meeting of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, however, the Dublin Airport Authority categorically denied it collects such information. Its representatives said they had no details as to who collects such data in its facilities. Will the Taoiseach clarify who is collecting this information? On what legal basis is it collected? Will this now stop? This is yet another episode in an unfolding farce.