Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says he will push for a more ambitious reopening this summer

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TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar said he would push for a “more ambitious” easing of public health restrictions and the reopening of society this summer, saying “an abundance of caution should not be an excess”.

Following the murder of Ashling Murphy this week, he also told a private Fine Gael meeting that Justice Minister Helen McEntee would present a new strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in the coming weeks, and said men need to recognize that violence against women is never justified.

Mr Varadkar told the gathering of Fine Gael TDs, senators and councilors that Ireland has endured ‘one of the toughest restrictions in Europe’ over the past two summers and this year is set to be different .

“I supported these restrictions, as did Fine Gael. In the summer of 2020 we had no vaccines. In the summer of 2021 most of us were not fully vaccinated,” a- he said during the online meeting.

“But that is no longer the case and that is why the summer of 2022 should be different. We at Fine Gael will advocate for a more ambitious reopening, not reckless or risky but rather in line with our European peers.

“Ireland is the only country that I know of where it hasn’t been possible to stand in a pub or go to work if wanted for almost two years. We’ve had among the toughest and longest restrictions on arts, sports, music and nightlife.

“It has been very hard for those who work in these sectors and for those for whom culture or sport is a passion. We must restore these individual freedoms as soon as it is safe to do so, and not later. It is right to be cautious, but over-caution should not be over-cautious.

Mr Varadkar said that by any objective measure Ireland had done better in the fight against Covid-19 than almost any other country in Europe.

“Whether it’s deaths per million, the case fatality rate, the percentage of people vaccinated or the number of people hospitalized today, we have done better than almost any country in Europe,” he said. he declares.

In a high-profile speech, Mr Varadkar said Fine Gael ministers would consider ways to reduce inflation in 2022 and 2023, saying the cost of childcare and healthcare must be reduced as they are “an outlier when it comes to both in a European context”.

“We must also reduce the cost of education for students and we must continue to provide tax, social and pension packages in every budget that help counter the rising cost of living,” he said. .

“The last budget set the standard, not the ceiling. This is an integral part of Fine Gael’s mission for 2022. These core issues where we are best at. The changes people feel in their pocket in a positive way.

On housing, Mr Varadkar gave a strong signal that he wanted the Central Bank to adjust the rules on mortgages, saying he hoped it would “pay more attention” to the recognition that many potential first-time buyers currently renting could afford a mortgage but cannot afford to raise a deposit due to high rents.

Speaking about the murder of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore this week, Mr Varadkar said Justice Minister Helen McEntee will present a new strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in the coming weeks.

“It’s about protecting the victims, making sure the perpetrators are caught, and how we as a society can come together, make sure we’re not bystanders, and stand against the violence of any kind against women,” he said.

“For men, we need to understand and teach our boys that violence against women is never justified. It doesn’t matter who she is, where she was, what she was doing, and it doesn’t matter what time of day. It is never justified. It’s always wrong.

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