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Sinn Fein TD sorry for likening vaccine policy to US segregation 

The two situations are in no way comparable and I apologise, says Conway Walsh

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Rose Conway Walsh TD. Credit: Gareth Chaney

Rose Conway Walsh TD. Credit: Gareth Chaney

Rose Conway Walsh TD. Credit: Gareth Chaney

A Sinn Féin TD has apologised for comparing the exclusion of the unvaccinated from indoor hospitality to segregationism in the southern United States in the 1960s.

Rose Conway Walsh said the legislation was completely unworkable and unjust.

“It made me think of Rosa Parks because of the segregation that is being done here,” she said..

“To say that people are being treated differently but that they are not being discriminated against is just plain wrong.”

Rosa Parks was a black woman on a bus in Alabama who was told to give up her seat to a white passenger.

Ms Parks, who died in 2005, was arrested when she refused, and later lost her job.

The incident led to a bus boycott, the first action in support of civil rights for black people organised by a young Martin Luther King. Race became the defining issue of the 1960s in the United States, with the Supreme Court striking down segregation.

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Ms Conway Walsh apologised on Twitter: “I made a reference to Rosa Parks that I regret when attempting to make a wider point about segregating people.

“The two situations are in no way comparable and would not want to ever imply that they are. I apologise.”

In the course of her Dáil contribution she had told TDs: “I do not care how comfortable the vaccinated Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party members are when they take their seats inside in the restaurants. We cannot segregate society like this.”

The comparison follows criticism of Independent TD Mattie McGrath for using similarly a racially-loaded term when he referred to indoor dining for the vaccinated as “medical apartheid.”

The Tipperary TD was then condemned for comparing the legislation to Nazi Germany and the forcing of Jews to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing.

The Auschwitz Museum deplored Mr McGrath’s comparison.

But as the indoor hospitality legislation passed through the Dáil, the unabashed Independent TD referred to deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic and said those responsible were guilty of “crimes against humanity.”

He said here had been a ‘slaughter’ in nursing homes. “I am not blaming the front-line staff. I am blaming the bad management and the fact that PPE could not be got for nursing homes. Oxygen that was en-route to nursing homes was diverted away from them. If someone does not go to the Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity for that, I will give up. What happened is a shocking indictment.”

Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe chided him: “There is something deeply wrong with the rules of this House.

"We cannot accuse each other of lying but we can accuse each other of war crimes. I know a lie when I hear it. There were no war crimes committed during this pandemic.”

There have been an additional 994 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic, the Department of Health said yesterday. As of 8am on Thursday, there were 80 patients in hospital with the disease, of whom 22 were in intensive care units.


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