Lockdown one year on: ‘I fear the deep debt NI has racked up – we must prioritise the NHS’
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said whilst it was right for the government to stump up financial support for the UK economy as the pandemic engulfed the country, it will take a long time before the nation truly recovers.
In particular, he spoke of his fears of “the huge debt” which has been rung up in order to subsidise millions of jobs and businesses since the first lockdown began a year ago yesterday.
The Covid-19 crisis had a particularly poignant sting for him and his family, because his father Jim Donaldson died during the first lockdown, and the family were unable to give him a full funeral.
Sir Jeffrey said: “The past year has been an extraordinary time for people in Northern Ireland, and I believe the legacy of this period will live with us for many years, in terms of the impact Covid has had on the physical and mental health and well-being of our population.
“It’s been a difficult time for many who have lost loved-ones, whether through Covid itself or indeed other causes.
“I know my own family faced the challenge of arranging a funeral for my father who passed away during the first lockdown period, and we were restricted to 10 people.
“For many it has been about putting their lives on hold over the past year.
“And of course we’ve had the devastating consequences of many who haven’t been able to access the medical treatment they need, including some suffering from life-threatening conditions.
“I’ve no doubt the impact of Covid is going to live long in our community. It’s going to take a substantial period for us all to recover.
“The pressure on public finances already is enormous. I think the government have been right to do what they can to support people through this period and yet I fear the huge debt this has accrued in our public finances is going to impact on public expenditure going forward, and it’s essential that the government prioritises the health service – because I believe that the pressure on the health service will continue.
“I think also it’s important we continue to invest in our education system and ensuring public services continue to operate.
“It’ll be a long recovery period for our economy, and therefore I think it’s incumbent on all of us who are politicians to work together to device a recovery strategy.”
Looking back on Covid-19’s arrival:
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