Minister of State at the Department of Tourism Brendan Griffin has said it is important that a tourism task force is established as quickly as possible to help the industry recover.

Mr Griffin said plans are under way within the department to establish the group in the near future.

"My vision for the task force is that we would have an independent chairperson for the task force as well so that it would assist the task force to formulate proposals and measures that are very much supported and needed by the industry."

The Dáil spent the afternoon debating the devastating impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the sector.

It heard that tourism trade will be down by more than 50% this year and many businesses in the sector have written-off 2020.

A range of ways to help support the sector were suggested by TDs with some getting the backing of the Minister Griffin.

He said that he is in favour of a new bank holiday being introduced towards the end of the year.

Mr Griffin also backed calls for a 0% VAT rate for the hospitality sector.

He said it would be an appropriate rate given the current situation and it would give the country a fighting chance to recover.

The minister was responding to Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan who said hotels and restaurants were unsure about the future of their businesses.

There have been calls too for people to holiday in Ireland later in the year.

Green TD Malcolm Noonan said a "staycation" was the patriotic and climate-friendly thing to do.

There was confirmation too that anglers can from today fish in locations less than 5km from their homes.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry called for Aer Lingus and Ryanair to be nationalised and merged into one publicly-owned Irish aviation company.

He told the Dáil that this would avoid job cuts and losses at the airlines.

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Additional reporting Aisling Kenny