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Stephen Donnelly contradicts Taoiseach on when he learned Nphet may seek tighter Covid-19 restrictions


Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Julien Behal

Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Julien Behal

Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Julien Behal

HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly has revealed that he told Taoiseach Michéal Martin that Nphet may recommend tightening Covid-19 restrictions to Level 4 before it met on Sunday.

The remarks in the Dáil contradict what Mr Martin's spokesperson told the Irish Independent yesterday.

The spokesperson said that Mr Martin “didn’t know the Nphet meeting was about discussing changing levels".

A row has raged all week over who in Government who knew what and when about the controversial recommendation which was rejected by the coalition which ultimately decided the country should go to Level 3.

Mr Donnelly has come under pressure to outline the sequence of events and what he knew after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar gave an interview to RTÉ earlier this week where he criticised the Nphet proposal and suggested it came as a surprise to the Government.

Mr Donnelly told the Dáil he got a text at lunchtime on Saturday from Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan to say he was calling a meeting of Nphet for the following day. He texted Taoiseach Micheál Martin to let him know.

On Sunday morning Mr Donnelly arranged a phone call with Mr Holohan.

He said: "We discussed the current situation and the possibility of moving to level 4."

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Mr Donnelly said he contacted the Taoiseach afterwards.

In the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin TDs pressed Mr Donnelly on whether he told the Taoiseach Nphet was considering recommending an escalation in Covid-19 restriction levels.

In response to a question from Matt Carthy, Mr Donnelly said that: "the information about Level Four was conveyed to the Taoiseach, yes."

On Sunday evening after the Nphet meeting Mr Donnelly took part in a video call with Mr Holohan and others.

"That is when I was informed of the recommendation to move to Level 5.