Brexit means Ireland is better placed to face Covid-19, says Varadkar

A marathon debate is underway in the Dáil with reduced attendance because of coronavirus.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said DT Dáil was taking unprecedented steps to respond to an unprecedented emergency.

The thousands of hours spent preparing for Brexit are now an advantage, as plans to prepare for this challenge are now useful in meeting the challenge of the coronavirus, he said.

Opening the marathon debate on the public interest emergency measures bill (Covid-19), which would normally take months to process, Varadkar commended Leinster House staff for their efforts.

And he paid tribute to the opposition parties for what he described as their constructive role. The government is grateful for their understanding and cooperation, he said, and is an example of collaboration between the parties for the good of the country.

The Dail will end its debate at 8 p.m. to applaud health workers on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis. It was agreed following a proposal from People Before Profit TD Brid Smith.

Smith said the House should join a national action Thursday evening at 8 p.m. to show appreciation for the efforts of healthcare workers.

As part of the required social distancing measures, only a third of the 160 DT Dail are present and seated two seats apart for the debate.

The House will sit for approximately 12 hours beyond the original 8:00 pm deadline to complete the bill which includes a rent freeze for tenants, a ban on evictions and a pause in any leave notices already issued.

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The bill includes the temporary income support program of around 3.7 billion euros which runs until June 30 and will be managed by the Revenue Commissioners, where the government will contribute to labor costs with a weekly pass-through subsidy. on employees.

Workers who have already lost their jobs and those who claim the Covid-19 sickness benefit will receive an unemployment allowance increased by € 350 per week. 103,000 applications have already been received for job seekers or pandemic payments.

It also provides for a simplified registration process for retired health professionals and will allow the re-registration of former members of the Permanent Defense Forces.

Varadkar said it would be possible to “smooth the curve” if sustained action was taken. This action included politicians, without unnecessary meetings, using videoconferencing, he said.

As a doctor and politician, he said that he knew it was worth repeating the best advice and reiterated the call for everyone to follow public health advice.

He said that Brexit had spent so much time and political energy. “Who would have thought that a completely different crisis would bring the country to a standstill?”

But he said in a sense that all the time spent on Brexit was precious. There was a very positive side effect. Because of the thousands of hours of preparation for all possible outcomes, they were now in a better position than if they had started thinking about things for the first time, he said.

This includes the time spent thinking about supply lines and the sudden shock to the economy, the money set aside through careful planning of public finances, he said.

All of this was now deployed against another type of national threat.

“When it comes to so many of our plans on the shelf, we simply erase Brexit and write in the coronavirus.”

He said they were very well prepared for a financial crisis and were in a much stronger position.

“Although the challenges are daunting, we are ready to face them and although the cost is very high, we are ready to pay this price even if it takes a few years.”

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