Martin admits 'danger and challenge' of second lockdown is ever present

Taoiseach has admitted that the “danger and challenge” of a second lockdown is ever-present but the Government is working to avoid it.

While on a visit to Limerick, where 400 jobs at a Regeneron plant were announced, Mr Martin was asked about Health Minister Stephen Donnelly’s comments that the country could be moving towards another lockdown.

“The way the numbers are going, we have to be constantly wary of that prospect,” Mr Martin told reporters.

“The reason we adopted the measures last week, was to make sure we don’t get to that situation. But it’s fluid,” he added.

The Taoiseach said that the plan is to live with the virus.

“Our strategy is to live with , to protect jobs, particularly in manufacturing facilities like the one we visited this morning, to get our schools open again and to resume our health services.

“And by taking the measures we have taken we want to try and avoid a lockdown but the danger and challenge is always there.”

The Taoiseach also stressed the importance of the reopening of the schools which saw students and teachers across the country return to the classrooms this week, the first time since March.

“I think the big story this week is the reopening of our schools. A million people, between students and teachers, are coming back into our schools.

“We have been visiting schools, on different days, to see the extraordinary work of the teachers and SNAs and school management. It is really good stuff to see the contribution they have made in enabling children to return to their schools.”

Tánaiste rules out EU commissioner job formerly held by ‘good friend’ Phil Hogan

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar joined the Taoiseach for the job announcement.

Mr Varadkar ruled out any interest in the European Commission job.

“My intention is to continue to lead my party, to work hard in my job as Tánaiste and Minister of Trade, Enterprise and Employment, and become Taoiseach again in 2022,” he told reporters.

He described former commissioner Phil Hogan as “a good colleague” and “a good friend.” Taoiseach spoke to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen regarding Hogans replacement.

“We had a good discussion because of the background to the last week and the situation pertaining to former commissioner Phil Hogan. We both spoke well of Phil Hogan, in terms of his capacity as a commissioner and the distinguished service he has given to Europe and to Ireland,” Mr Martin said.

“We then focused on moving forward and formerly the president will be writing to me this evening in relation to a successor. The three party leaders will meet to discuss this, and it is fair to say that our shared objective is that a person of a very very high calibre will be nominated by the Irish government,” he added.

With the 400 new jobs, the total headcount at Regeneron will be brought to over 1,400 at its Industrial Operations and Product Supply (IOPS) campus in the Limerick area.

Since 2014, Regeneron has invested over $1 billion (€850,000) to build the largest bulk biologics production facility in the country.

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