The Taoiseach has said no one is being stopped from buying essential or non-essential clothes or other items as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Micheál Martin said there are "ways and means" for people to get access to a variety of goods and services.

He said: "Children will be able to get clothes. You have click and collect, you have online, you have shop deliveries, you have Community Call.

"That all happened in the first phase of Covid and it will happen in this phase as well.

"So the capacity does exist to get what might be termed essential and non-essential goods and services across the board."

Mr Martin added: "The first lockdown worked and it was a more severe lockdown in many respects than the current one. All this does offers a compassionate approach."

Earlier, the Government was urged to classify children's clothes as "essential" during Level 5 restrictions on retail, following comments last night by Minister of State Damien English that clothes were not considered essential items.

Social Democrats Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon said a lot of parents do not have the capacity to order online because they may not have a credit card or a place where products could be delivered.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said Minister English "let himself down" with his comments.

Mr Gannon said the Government must rectify the situation and state that children's clothes, such as vests and socks, are essential.

Speaking on Prime Time, Mr English said wreaths for All Soul's Day or socks for children are "not essential" 

The Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Businesses defended the Government's policy of ensuring that mixed retailers only sold goods that were classed as "essential"

When asked if it was the case that someone can buy a bottle of wine but not socks for their child, Mr English said "socks come under clothes". 

Mr English also said that people could not buy wreaths for All Soul's Day on 2 November. 

"They can't," he said, "because it's not essential trade, what's essential is food". 

He added: "If you're at home tonight in your house, do you really need to go out and buy that wreath this week or next week?" 

Mr English also stressed that he understood the importance of November for many people and that they could still say a prayer for their loved one and go and visit a grave.

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has told RTÉ's News at One that "we need a level playing field" for all retailers, including smaller retailers, when it comes to the definition of non-essential goods.


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Additional reporting Conor McMorrow