Taoiseach Micheál Martin touched on higher education and Covid-19 during a visit to Trinity’s campus this afternoon to see the new Book of Kells exhibition.
Speaking in the Exam Hall, Martin highlighted the importance of personal responsibility in the coming weeks before Christmas in minimising the spread of Covid-19.
Regarding the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) projections for January, which predict a potential rise in virus cases, Martin said that “we enter this phase in a good place compared to the rest of Europe”.
However, he emphasised that it remains “very important we warn people and keep the alert high”.
When asked about the coming developments of vaccines, Martin responded that he sees the potential for vaccines as a motivator.
“We’ll be in a new phase in the new year,” he related. However, he continued to underline the “importance of our collective behaviour over Christmas”.
He believes that people will be conscious of public health over the holiday period because of a collective desire to adhere to health guidance and get through the problem. He referred to the public as being “grounded in realism” about the situation.
Regarding questions about allowance for student nurses and midwives, the Taoiseach stated that there is ongoing review into the problem.
This week, the government voted against a motion to provide pay allowances for student nurses and midwives on placement programmes.
Martin stated that Government has “no issue” in supporting student healthcare workers, and allowances for students will continue to be reviewed.
After touring the new Book of Kells exhibition in the Old Library, Martin described the exhibit as “incredible, really”.
The Book of Kells, he said, is “one of the great jewels of the crown in Ireland…and in one of the most attractive locations in Ireland”.