Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it is the Government's focus and target that both primary and secondary schools reopen as fully as possible at the end of August.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One during his first TV interview as Taoiseach, Mr Martin said that it was extremely important for children and young people, in terms of their education and development that this happens.

The Fianna Fáil leader said children needed to be back in schools and emphasised that what was published was interim advice. He said there was still time to update the advice on the planned reopening of schools.

Mr Martin said he is taking a cautious approach to the question of travel.

He said Ireland has made great progress in suppressing Covid-19 and bringing it to a very low level of transmission and great care is needed that the next steps do not undermine that progress.

He said that if something was to happen between now and August that would cause a spike, it could jeopardise schools reopening.

He said he was also very concerned about non-Covid illness and disease and he wants the health services free enough to deal with the many conditions that have not been treated because of the impact of the coronavirus on the health service and health capacity.

The Government will take advice from the public health authorities tomorrow, the Taoiseach added.

He said if there were to be any changes in terms of travel, there would need to be advice on what measures need to be in place at airports for testing and contact tracing for arrivals. Also, on what criteria is required for aircraft and ferries and the protocols for these.

Mr Martin said he is worried about the continuing volatility at international level. He said some countries that were doing well three weeks ago are not doing as well now and there must be caution as our economic recovery depends on continued suppression of the virus.


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There must be great care not to undermine our economy emerging from what has been a very difficult number of months for many sectors, he added.

On the economy, the Taoiseach said that borrowings will cause a potential deficit of €25bn to €30bn which he said is necessary.

Mr Martin said he had a phone call with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel this afternoon and it was very clear that Europe has to respond in a similar robust manner in terms of protecting livelihoods, companies and businesses.

He said there would be a further Government initiative in July aimed at getting people back to work and there would be a number of Bills going through the Oireachtas, such as the Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Micro Finance Bill which are all designed to give extra supports to small and medium-sized companies. 

Mr Martin said the Programme for Government represents very fundamental change in helping people with access to housing and health.

There is an opportunity to redevelop hospital system and to change the nature and quality of care using technology. He said there would be investment in technology in this area.