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Pushback as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly seeks to extend emergency laws for masks, Covid certs and fines

There has been pushback against the Government’s attempts to extend emergency power legislation.

inister for Health Stephen Donnelly this afternoon has proposed extending them until February 9.

The emergency power legislation provides for face masks, Covid passes, enforcement powers and fixed penalty notices to be put in place in relation to restrictions.

The laws, which were due to expire on November 9, are now being extended after being put in place for the first time at the beginning of the pandemic.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said that he accepts that some public health restrictions will have to stay in place, however he said that the country is now in a “different place” since the legislation was first put in place. 

“I think the time has come where they are no longer necessary,” he said.

He said that the circumstances are now “completely different” than they were when the legislation was first put in place.

TD Thomas Gould said that politicians should not be expected to sign a “blank cheque” and “suspend normal parliamentary oversight”.

People Before Profit also refused to support the extension of the legislation.

Labour TD Ged Nash said that there is a need to take “responsible actions to help save lives”.

He said that measures such as mask wearing will help to tackle the spread of the virus.

Social Democrat TD and party co-leader Roisin Shortall put in place amendments, saying that there are “draconian powers” in place which have an implication on freedoms.

She said that regulations put in place under the legislation should be first brought into the Dáil to allow for scrutiny.

Labour agreed to extend emergency powers as the country is entering a “very difficult winter”.

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