A “plethora” of voices among public health experts and politicians have “not been helpful” in messaging around the pandemic, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
His comments come as he revealed he is investigating members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) not being allowed to appear on radio shows by the Government amid accusations of public health being “gagged”.
The cabinet agreed last Friday that Nphet members must go through the Government Information Services (GIS) if they want to take part in media interviews. It came after ministers were annoyed last week when public health advice was reported before they had seen a letter from chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan last week.
“Sometimes, there has been a plethora of voices out, which at different times, may not have been as helpful as it could have been,” said Mr Martin.
“These are things we can work through with members of Nphet.”
When asked why some members of Nphet who had been booked to appear on radio programmes last weekend did not appear as the GIS said they were unavailable, the Taoiseach said he was investigating the issue.
He said that he was “not familiar with the detail behind that”.
“I’m actually trying to check that out,” he told reporters.
“That didn’t come from my office.
“I sincerely hold this view, since the beginning of the pandemic, even when I was in opposition, I've been very clear that public health and independent public health advice. Sometimes, we mightn’t like it, in terms of the messaging.
“We do need to coordinate it and we do need to, we need to evaluate how the messaging is being received by the public as well,” he added.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said members of Nphet are being asked to “coordinate” with the GIS prior to media appearances and will receive an “up to date brief”.
“People are asked to coordinate their media performances, to let GIS know that they’re going to be on a particular programme, and then you get the up to date brief so that you’re across things and you know, that you’re prepared for questions you mightn’t be prepared for, and that applies to ministers in the Government as much as it applies to anybody and any other body,” he said.
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