Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has expressed both anger and concern over a situation which has been allowed to arise in the County as a consequence of the government’s failure to put in place a test and trace system that works.
Deputy Brady said:
“With the scaled reopening of schools being stepped up this week, we are inevitably going to witness a rise in the need for testing and tracing amongst staff and children in schools across the country.
In the last week, in one school in South Wicklow, we have had three classes, including one of senior infants, isolating since last week due to the diagnosis of three cases in the school.
All three classes had their first test in the new purpose built Covid test centre in Newtownmountkennedy last weekend, and thankfully no new cases were identified.
And while one class had their second test in Newtown, the other two classes were forced to travel from Arklow to the RDS and Aviva in Dublin, some with only two to three hours’ notice.
They were informed that this is because the new local test centre in Newtown is closed every second weekend.
The conditions that the children and their families were forced to endure after having to travel these distances is totally unacceptable.
They were described to me as being ‘horrendous’. There were no toilet facilities, despite many families having to travel over an hour to the test centre, where they were faced with long queues. I have received complaints that the staff in the test centre had no experience of having worked with children before.
The Wicklow TD continued:
“I will be demanding answers from the Minister for Health over this debacle. This is absolutely unacceptable. Minister Donnelly needs to explain why test centres are being run on weekend on, and weekend off basis, during a global pandemic?
The people of this country are doing their bit to drive down infection rates. But, central to the strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic is the testing and tracing process. The government cannot be allowed to offer platitudes about our role in defeating Covid-19, and then fail to live up to their responsibilities.
We need the test centres to remain open, to be properly resourced, with adequate facilities.
We need to ensure that all staff at testing centres are trained to work with young children.
We need to have confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic, which at the minute can only be described as ‘wanting’.”
Deputy Brady concluded “There must be accountability over this treatment of young children. I will be demanding assurances that there is no way that this will be allowed to occur again.”