Simon Coveney suggests nations with large numbers of Irish citizens should not be added to quarantine list

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It was reported this week that 43 countries could be added to the list.

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN Affairs Simon Coveney has said the Irish government should not “significantly” add to the number of countries on the mandatory hotel quarantine list.

It was reported this week that 43 countries – including the US, France, Germany and other EU states – were recommended for inclusion on the list by public health officials.

A final decision on the new countries’ inclusion has not yet been made, but concerns have been raised about the recommendations by government figures and the Attorney General.

Coveney, who was reported to be privately “furious” about the proposals, told Highland Radio this morning that he did not agree with plans to add certain countries to the list.

“I don’t believe we should move ahead with adding a significant number [of countries to the list], particularly countries that have very large numbers of Irish citizens,” he said.

“Because don’t forget, this is not primarily about non-Irish people coming to Ireland on their holidays or for something else. This is primarily about Irish people coming home.”

The minister explained that the original policy was introduced in order to protect the country from new variants of Covid-19, and claimed that Ireland already had “the most restrictive international travel regime anywhere in Europe”.

He further suggested that expanding the list of countries would raise concerns about the capacity of the current system to accommodate all of those who wanted to travel, particularly if countries added to the list had high numbers of Irish citizens.

“If you take France for example, there’s 20,000 Irish people living in France. Many of them would come home from the summer lots of them are students, and so an, that at the end of the term will need to come home…

“Is it reasonable to put those people for two weeks in a hotel if they have a home to go to where they could quarantine?”

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Coveney is set to meet Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to discuss the proposals today.

Attorney General Paul Gallagher raised concerns over the the legality of the recommendations when he wrote to Donnelly yesterday.

It is understood there are concerns that European treaty rights and human rights matters have not been fully considered as part of the proposals, and that if certain countries were added to the list, it could in a challenge in the courts.

While the Taoiseach told reporters this week that there would be additions to the list, he did not go so far as stating that it would include the likes of the US or EU countries.

– Contains reporting by Christina Finn.

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