Public confidence in the Taoiseach's ability to manage the Covid-19 crisis has collapsed in recent months. Today, the Taoiseach promised clarity but instead we have had further confusion. Dublin is left in limbo, our citizens over the age of 70 are left without necessary guidance, and travel advice is confused and unsure again. Most striking is the absence of any comprehensive plan to step up testing and tracing capacity. The Taoiseach and I both know that some people are waiting for results of their tests in some cases for six or seven days. It is this inefficiency that allows the virus to take hold and to transmit across our communities.
The Taoiseach has again today made an appeal to individual citizens to shoulder their responsibilities, which is fair enough. The fact is, however, that the Taoiseach is failing in his. The Government can publish any plans it wants but they are not worth the paper they are written on so long as our testing and tracing capacities are so woefully inadequate. The Taoiseach has to get this right. A first-class testing and tracing system is the springboard for everything we want to see. It is the sure mechanism to allow people to return to work and stay at work safely and to allow children and students return to education and stay there safely. It is also essential to ensure our health system does not become overwhelmed at a time when trolley figures are creeping back up and waiting lists of outpatient appointments are at record levels. The truth is that the Taoiseach and his predecessor, Deputy Varadkar, have failed to put in place the testing and tracing system we need, which is the carrying out of at least 100,000 tests a week with a guaranteed result within 24 hours. We hear stories of people constantly waiting longer than that.
Let it be said that the Taoiseach and the Minister, Deputy Varadkar, have had numerous opportunities to put in place this testing and tracing system. In April, the Taoiseach's now Cabinet colleagues, the Ministers, Deputies Varadkar and Harris, said they would be doing 100,000 tests a day by mid-May. We are now in September and that target has not been reached. Back in May the then Taoiseach dismissed my call for these 100,000 tests a week, and he did so in a very arrogant and condescending manner. The occasion of the publication of the reopening roadmap was another chance to get testing and tracing right, but this did not happen. The Taoiseach formed his Government at the end of June and again it was a prime opportunity to get things right and to put an emphasis on testing and tracing. The Taoiseach failed again.
Infection rates dropped over the course of the summer and the Government was again presented with an opportunity to get this right but it did not do so and now the virus has caught up with us. The people in Kildare, Laois and Offaly have already paid a very heavy price for the Government's failure and now the people of Dublin face further restrictions and more disruption to their lives. The growing rates of infection and this disruption are directly related to the Government's failure to get things right.
Amid all the bluster and the very long press conference the Taoiseach hosted earlier today, there is on inescapable truth; either we get testing and tracing right and do it quickly or we will be consigned to a yo-yo effect of further restrictions and even lockdowns. I have no doubt that citizens will carry the burden of their responsibilities but the Government must also measure up to its responsibilities.