Oireachtas debate needed on the introduction of antigen testing

Dublin Fingal TD and Fine Gael Spokesperson for Climate Action Alan Farrell has called for a parliamentary debate on the introduction and role of antigen testing in Ireland.

Deputy Farrell said, “I believe a meaningful debate in Dáil Éireann with regard to antigen testing is now necessary as we plot our way out of the pandemic and continue to reopen society. Antigen testing is being planned for use in the education sector and I believe that there is potential for it to be used in a much more expanded way.

“We need to have a science-based debate in the Oireachtas in relation to the facts about antigen testing, to provide members with accurate information on its science and efficacy.

Deputy Farrell continued, “The Government launched the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the Economic Recovery Plan last week, and I believe antigen testing can help facilitate many aspects of these plans.

“Sectors such as aviation and tourism would particularly benefit from the rollout of antigen testing. Both industries have been decimated by the pandemic and without efficient means of reopening, international travel will continue to struggle.

“Antigen testing is being actively promoted in other jurisdictions as a means of detecting Covid-19 on the spot. We in Ireland, however, appear to be taking a different approach. I believe it is appropriate to ask why?

“I’ve therefore asked the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party to endorse such a debate and I have also requested that the Health Committee hold hearings on the matter with input from scientific professionals. This will contribute to an evidence-led approach to reopening the economy, just as we relied on an evidence-based approach for the management of the pandemic.”

Deputy Farrell concluded, “We have to provide businesses and wider society with the best and most efficient routes back to normality. Antigen testing provides an avenue which I believe is worth exploring in this endeavour and it is my hope this debate will reach the floor of the Committee on Health and ultimately, Dáil Éireann.”