On the 8th of January the government introduced new stringent lockdown measures to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus, and almost all construction projects in the country ceased from 6pm that night.
There are, however, some exceptions to the new restrictions: construction has been allowed to continue on some essential sites such as those the building of social housing and essential health projects.
These are understandable as the country is currently in the midst of a housing crisis, a crisis caused by a lack of public housing, and policies that fail to meet the needs of society. Public housing and essential health projects will obviously be needed in the fight against the virus.
But one exception among the new measures can hardly be classed as essential. It highlights, nonetheless, in whose interests the Irish government serves. Major projects in the Foreign Direct Investment sector have been allowed to continue throughout the latest lockdown.
While the majority of construction workers were able to stay at home as the numbers of cases and deaths exploded, those who were working on sites for large American tech companies such as Intel and Google were forced to travel from all parts of the country and to work in overcrowded and dangerous conditions, in sites where the virus can easily spread, to ensure that these companies – who use Ireland as nothing more than a tax haven and whose contribution to this country are negligible at best – are unaffected by the current crisis.
The government’s response to the pandemic has shown over and over again where its priorities are, whether it is relaxing residency rules for tax exiles at the beginning of the pandemic or now allowing the tech giants of Silicon Valley to continue construction at the expense of the health of Irish workers.