“Clothes are not essential” says Minister of State in Prime Time clash last night

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Minister of State Damien English has defended the current government restricitons on retail outlets, saying ‘clothes are not essential’ items.

In a debate with Clare TD Michael McNamara on Prime Time last night, the Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Businesses outlined the reasons behind the current restricitons on retailers.

Asked by Miriam O’Callaghan if socks for your child are essential, Minister English said: “Clothes are not essential. But again, there’s still, of course, in all situations there’s a bit of common sense and the gardaí are reinforcing the public health message.”

“They’re engaging with the retail sector, they’re encouraging them to do the right thing, and to be fair, I recognise, the retail sector – they’re doing their best to get it right, and if changes are needed there’s been the changes made.”

Clarifying the situation, Miriam asked the Fine Gael TD: “So I can buy a bottle of wine but I cannot buy socks for my son?”

“Socks come under clothes,” said Minister English. “To be clear, the whole aim is to discourage the movement of people as much as we can.”

Michael McNamara TD said that he understands that the purpose of the restrictions across the board is to avoid the unintended consequences of the first lockdown when all retail activity was pushed into the big chain retailers.

But the Independent TD said that his concern in this lockdown is that retail activity will move online – and people will be shopping at large companies and conglomerates not based in Ireland.

“It’s a loss of jobs in Ireland and it’s a loss of taxes in Ireland,” said Deputy McNamara.