Political Correspondent Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said that emergence of new variants will mean that, for the foreseeable future, Irish people will have “to learn to live with Covid-19 pending a successful global eradication campaign”.
In his keynote address to the party’s annual convention, Mr Ryan began by speaking of the new variant of concern that has emerged in southern Africa in recent days, saying it was a worrying development but that it would ultimately be addressed by vaccines.
“I know the TV news bulletins might be alarming but please remember that there are several reasons to remain hopeful,” Mr Ryan, who is also Minister for Climate Change, Communications and Transport told delegates.
“While the new variant may prove to be more contagious, our best scientists expect that the vaccines will still provide us with protection. What we need to do now is to accelerate the booster programme here at home, and ensure the whole world gets access to vaccines at urgent speed. The only way to stop this disease in its tracks is to have a co-ordinated global approach,” he said.
He said the people would have to learn to live with Covid until the worldwide vaccination campaign had completed.
However, he said that people would have to be allowed “to enjoy a normal social life because that too is vital for our health and wellbeing”.
The party’s intention had been to hold this year’s convention in the Aviva Stadium but it migrated online once the Government’s advice changed earlier this month in the face of the deteriorating Covid-19 situation.
The main theme of Mr Ryan’s speech, and also that of deputy leader Catherine Martin, was that the time for action on Green policies in Government is now. He said that not alone had Green policies been approved by the Government, but they were beginning to be implemented.
“We are talking the talk but increasingly we are walking the walk,” he said.
“There are challenges ahead, of course. Will there be missteps along the way? Absolutely.
“But we will learn as we go and we will emerge as a cleaner, greener, happier Ireland. We can do this and we will. The time is now,” he said.
In her speech, Ms Martin said the Greens in Government must move faster and be more courageous in their actions.
“Institutions, by their nature, don’t change quickly, but the Green Party knows and recognises the urgency to change course.
“The old system is built for the old world. It cannot be business as usual.
“And if our institutions can’t get what needs to be done, then let’s never accept no for an answer,” said Ms Martin, who is also Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
She said that the world needed new visions, new leaders and change-makers.
She said the Green Party needed to constantly push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.
She also said people were demanding the Greens “must do better”.