TD Mattie McGrath criticised by Auschwitz Museum for comparing indoor dining passes to the Nazis
Tipperary TD also used Repeal slogan to say taking a Covid vaccine was “my body, my choice”
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has been heavily criticised for comparing passes for indoor hospitality to Nazism.
The Taoiseach told the Tipperary TD to “refrain from your frequent use…of Nazism and totalitarianism”.
Micheál Martin called him out after remarks by Mr McGrath were criticised by the Auschwitz Museum.
The leader of the Regional Independent Group said outside the Dáil that Covid passes for indoor hospitality were akin to special Nazi identifiers for minority groups, such as the yellow Star of David required to be worn by Jews.
Auschwitz Museum and TDs criticise Mattie McGrath for comparing Irish Covid measures to Nazi Germany
“Is that where we’ve come to now, back to 1933 in Germany, we’ll be all tagged in yellow with the mark of the beast on us, is that where we’re going?” Mr McGrath asked.
He added: “If you study history and I’m not a historian, you can see what happened in Germany.
“There is huge correlation. It’s exactly the same — if you want to study it, exactly the same, restriction of movements, couldn’t go where they wanted to go.
“That’s what happened, so I am comparing, yeah, that’s for me to compare and for anyone else who wants to read history, make their own decisions on it,” Mr McGrath said.
As Mr McGrath’s remarks were reported and began to be criticised online, they attracted the attention of the Auschwitz Museum, which tweeted him a link to an online history lesson on the Holocaust and the problems caused by terminology and glib associations
Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore took the row into the Dáil, telling Mr McGrath that words “are being flung out here like they have no consequence”.
She referred to the “message from the Auschwitz Museum”, adding that a political argument on vaccination had seen use made of “the tragedy of all the people who have suffered, millions tortured and murdered by a hateful totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany”.
For such comparison and symbolism to be used was a sign of “moral and intellectual decline”, she said. Ms Whitmore said it was simply not an issue that could be compared to the Holocaust.
The museum had tweeted Mr McGrath with a history lesson on the Holocaust
The Taoiseach told Mr McGrath he should “refrain from your frequent use” of comparisons to Nazi Germany when the Government took decisions he did not like.
Mr Martin said he should not make comparisons with the Holocaust but Mr McGrath insisted in reply: “I never uttered that word.” Instead he called on Mr Martin to withdraw the accusation.
Mr Martin told him: “You have consistently made ridiculous remarks that are and insult and offensive.
“You’ve accused the Government of being like the Nazis and have done so repeatedly.”
Mr McGrath had moments earlier told the Dáil that the Government was being “totalitarian” and “authoritarian” over vaccination passes for indoor hospitality.
He protested that the measures involved “medical apartheid” and that anyone from a bouncer to a Garda to a member of the Defence Forces could demand a person’s vaccine papers — a claim Government ministers have specifically denied.
The Taoiseach told him: “You have repeatedly in this House accused the Government of being like Nazis.”
Mr McGrath replied: “Spare us the history lesson.”
Fianna Fáil junior minister Thomas Byrne weighed in: “Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to Nazi Germany.
“Every comparison diminishes the memory of that unique evil, the slaughter of millions of Jews.”
When questioned by reporters if Mr McGrath would take a Covid-19 vaccine, the Independent TD said it was his private business, and compared Covid vaccinations to the 2018 Repeal movement for abortion rights, which he had opposed.
He said: “That’s that question that I’ve been asked, but I said, that’s another area of constitutional rights, your bodily integrity.
“We had a situation a couple of years ago, in the Repeal situation, where the main slogan was ‘my body, my choice’.
“So it’s my body, my choice, and it’s a matter between me and my GP,” he said.
Mr McGrath made the comments today while speaking to the media with Independent TD Michael Healy Rae. Both TDs declined to say if they would take the vaccine, and outlined their opposition to the government’s reopening plans.
Tonight Mr McGrath issued a statement in which he said he strenuously rejected claims that he specifically compared the proposed vaccine pass legislation for hospitality and indoor dining to the Jewish Holocaust.
“I have never used the word ‘holocaust’ despite the misleading assertions of the Taoiseach and others.
“Neither have I argued against vaccination. What I have argued against is enforced or coercive vaccination as indeed the EU Parliament has and that is an entirely different matter,” he said.
“Yes I have described the Government’s railroading of draconian, discriminatory and profoundly unethical legislation on this issue as reminiscent of the early Nazi era, however I was using the term as a way to describe a certain kind of political environment where fundamental constitutional and legal principles are eroded and where a system of enforced segregation is imposed on people under a veneer of democratic legitimacy.
“In this sense it should be clear to all that what is happening this week is a travesty of the democratic process. The entire political opposition and anyone with their eyes open at all can see that this is the case.
“I accept that this is stark language, but sometimes stark language is necessary to alert people to the scale and depth of the discrimination that this Government is attempting to legitimise.”