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TD criticises how 'we can have a McDonald's but we can't have cancer screening'

Independent TD Michael McNamara questions priorities for reopening

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20/05/2020 Staff serve people on the first day of re-opening at the McDonald's Drive thru on the Kylemore Road, Dublin. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

20/05/2020 Staff serve people on the first day of re-opening at the McDonald's Drive thru on the Kylemore Road, Dublin. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Colin Keegan

20/05/2020 Staff serve people on the first day of re-opening at the McDonald's Drive thru on the Kylemore Road, Dublin. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

HEALTH Minister Simon Harris was urged to look at priorities for reopening Ireland as a TD pointed out "we can have a McDonald's but we can't have cancer screening."

Independent TD Michael McNamara made the criticism in the Dáil as he asked Mr Harris if he believed it is satisfactory.

The State's screening services for breast, cervical and bowel cancer have been suspended due to the crisis.

Six McDonald's restaurants reopened in Dublin yesterday.

Mr Harris said "you wouldn't be in anyway flippant in relation to this" but he doesn't have responsibility for McDonalds.

He said: "I do have a responsibility for the safety of health service, the safety of the staff and the safety of the women and men of Ireland."

Mr Harris said he has yet to find another country that has restarted their screening programme and listed places like Scotland and Wales, in Northern Ireland and New Zealand which are following similar advice on the issue.

"I want to turn it back on but I want to do it in a safe way. It will be led by clinical advice and within two weeks we’ll have the non-Covid care plan from the HSE," Mr Harris said.

This will be led by clinicians who will determine when it is safe and how they intend to recommence work, the Dáil was told.

Mr McNamara said that in normal times Mr Harris wouldn't have responsibility for McDonald's.
"But give the extraordinary powers this chamber gave you it seems you have the responsibility for everything in your regulations," the Clare TD added.

"I would urge you minister to look at priorities because sometimes they don't seem to make sense to ordinary people across this land," he said.

Mr Harris said the priority is to "keep as many people alive in this country as possible".

He said: "through the incredible efforts of the Irish people we saved an awful lot of lives.

"My ongoing priority now is to manage the virus to a point that we don't see a second wave, that we continue to keep it suppressed while we try to live alongside it.

"That's going to be a difficult and delicate balance, and my priority then is to begin to turn back on, safely, non-Covid services."

He said this will be a challenge "because we will have to run our health service in a very different way."

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