Opposition parties have called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to give a 'full explanation' about how he dealt with NPHET's concerns about the rising coronavirus rates over the weekend.
Public health officials' recommendation on Sunday night that the entire country move to level five has been described by a number of ministers - including Tánaiste Leo Varadkar - as a surprise.
However, the Chief Medical Officer yesterday said he spoke to Minister Donnelly both before and after NPHET met on Sunday.
ℹ️ Health Minister Stephen Donnelly knew of Dr Tony Holohan’s concern about the spread of Covid-19 before NPHET’s ad-hoc meeting on Sunday.
Govt said it was surprised at recommendations.
— Ben Finnegan (@_BenFinnegan) October 7, 2020
Dr Tony Holohan said: "I spoke to him after the meeting, and I spoke to him before the meeting.
"There's nothing unusual - that's always what happens... you speak to a minister both before and after the meeting."
Minister Donnelly has said he informed the Taoiseach on Saturday that NPHET would meet the following day over the concerning case numbers.
He's also said to have communicated with the Taoiseach after both of Sunday's conversations with the CMO.
However, opposition parties have called on Minister Donnelly to give a full statement in the Dáil about the timeline.
Sínn Féin said a "full explanation" is needed today:
Minister Donnelly’s statement does not address the issue. He allowed the impression to be formed that NPHET went on a solo run and stayed silent as the Tánaiste attacked the CMO. This is unacceptable and he must give a full explanation in the Dáil tomorrow. @sinnfeinireland
— David Cullinane TD (@davidcullinane) October 7, 2020
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said: “I am calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, to make a full statement of what he was told on Sunday morning and evening and what he did with that information.
“The country was distracted by an unseemly row between the Government and NPHET at precisely the moment when all attention should."
Labour leader Alan Kelly reiterated the calls for a Dáil statement from the minister, saying Minister Donnelly "must clear up this latest controversy".
The Government ultimately rejected the level five recommendation, opting to move the entire country to level three restrictions instead.