Independent Tipperary TD and leader of the Dáil Rural Independent Group, Mattie McGrath, has rejected claims that he specifically compared the proposed vaccine pass legislation for hospitality and indoor dining to the Jewish holocaust.
Deputy McGrath went on to say that while he has described the “draconian legislation enacted by Dáil Eireann as reminiscent of 1930s Germany”, he “categorically did not draw a specific equivalence between the current Irish situation and the systemic murder of the Jewish population”.
Deputy McGrath said outside the Dáil last week that Covid passes for indoor hospitality were akin to special Nazi identifiers for minority groups, such as the yellow Star of David required to be worn by Jews.
“Is that where we’ve come to now, back to 1933 in Germany, we’ll be all tagged in yellow with the mark of the beast on us, is that where we’re going?” Mr McGrath asked.
He added: “If you study history and I’m not a historian, you can see what happened in Germany.”
The Newcastle native said attempts to suggest that he was making such a comparison were “spurious, manipulative and politically driven attempts to demonise his opposition to the Government’s vaccine pass proposals”.
An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, told the Tipperary TD to “refrain from your frequent use of language and not to keep using the terms Nazism and totalitarianism”.
The Taoiseach called him out after remarks by Mr McGrath were criticised by the Auschwitz Museum.
Mr Martin told him: “You consistently make ridiculous assertions in this house that are an insult and offensive. You’ve accused the Government of being like the Nazis and have done so repeatedly.”
In the Dáil, Deputy McGrath hit back and said: “Words are being put into my mouth, I never uttered that word (Nazism). You should apologise to me, please correct the record.”
In a statement, Deputy McGrath added: “I will not be lectured to by this Taoiseach, any member of his Government or indeed any member of this Dáil when they continue to insist that I am engaged in false equivalences on this matter. I have never used the word ‘holocaust’ despite the misleading assertions of the Taoiseach and others.
“Neither have I argued against vaccination.
“What I have argued against is enforced or coercive vaccination as indeed the EU Parliament has and that is an entirely different matter.
“Yes I have described the Government’s railroading of draconian, discriminatory and profoundly unethical legislation on this issue as reminiscent of the early Nazi era, however I was using the term as a way to describe a certain kind of political environment where fundamental constitutional and legal principles are eroded and where a system of enforced segregation is imposed on people under a veneer of democratic legitimacy. In this sense it should be clear to all that what is happening is a travesty of the democratic process. The entire political opposition and anyone with their eyes open at all can see that this is the case. It is also clear to me that this new system will be authoritarian and indeed totalitarian in nature. I accept that this is stark language, but sometimes stark language is necessary to alert people to the scale and depth of the discrimination that this Government is attempting to legitimise.”
The Government on Wednesday won a crucial Dáil vote on the legislation that would allow for indoor dining to resume on Monday for vaccinated or Covid-recovered persons.
The Dáil passed the second reading of the Bill by 72 votes to 66.
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