Participants in sports such as gymnastics, basketball and karate are getting back to training in sports and community halls throughout the country. They need that outlet to keep physically healthy and active and for mental health as a coping mechanism to help them deal with this strange world we live in now. They also need it as a social outlet, even if it means reconnecting with people from a social distance.
None of these benefits is limited to the world of sport and yet it is only sport training that we are allowing under level 3. Dancers throughout this country are dancing in their living rooms instead of preparing for their Christmas shows. Those dancers and performing artists deserve the same treatment as our athletes. They deserve to practise too. Not every child or adult is sporty. People get their kicks in different ways. That is a why kick dance is as important as a karate kick, or why speech and drama is as important as soccer and drills. However, our level 3 guidelines say differently. The Cabinet at which the Minister sits is telling children who dance and their parents that they are not as important as children who do sport. That could not be further from the truth or from the values that I know this Government holds dear.
I ask the Minister to correct this anomaly, to give those kids equality and fairness, and to give them something to look forward to and a light at the end of the level 5 tunnel. Let them get back to feeling the rhythm of our national Irish dance in their feet, the buzz of modern dance through groups such as Dancity Ireland in their bones, and the elegance of ballet in their spirit.
When I raised this issue in the Chamber last month, the Ceann Comhairle told me he felt like tripping the light fantastic after I spoke. Today, however, silent protesters are lining Kildare Street, asking why no lights are tripping for them. I met and chatted with them. I promised to continue to advocate for them and to bring what they said outside the Dáil into the Chamber where decisions are made in order that I can help effect change and deliver equality of opportunity for them. This is a major issue for dancers. We are talking about denying them their passion after they have already endured months upon months of lockdown. They need that outlet now more than ever and it is especially unfair on those who study for dance, drama and music exams.
I asked the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, if any additional risk was posed by dancing. I thought perhaps that was the reason dancing was not included in the level guidelines. Just yesterday, he told me clearly it was not about that but about the indoor aspect. That is the nub of this and that is why I do not understand why dance practice is not allowed when Sport Ireland issued guidelines to allow for sport practice in what they are terming "pods of one".
Like Sport Ireland organisations, dancers will make sure their premises are safe and clean and that physical distancing is in place. They will jump through any hoop as long as they can start pulling their moves again because they love to dance. They understand that they cannot dance at level 5. However, at level 3 when indoor sports training is allowed, once participants maintain social distancing, then it is nothing short of discrimination not to let our dancers practise their passion. I ask the Minister to give our dancers their rhythm back