"A tale of two Irelands - vaccines for 18-year-olds in the North, but missed targets in the South" - Tóibín
The Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has called on the Taoiseach to be honest about what efforts have been made to secure vaccines. Deputy Tóibín said:
"There are two Ireland's in the news headlines today - if we look in the north the main headline is "vaccine portal to open to everyone aged over 18", but if we look at the headlines in the south the main one is "serious concerns about supply of Johnson and Johnson vaccine" or "government to miss vaccine target". This is a phenomenal situation. In the south the government stuck religiously with the European approach in applying to companies as a union, despite the fact that many other EU countries also sought supplies directly and privately from the companies - countries such as Germany and Denmark".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "No matter how many times I requested that the government would seek vaccines privately they refused to budge. In the north they got supplies outside the EU supply chain and they're now light years ahead of us in terms of rollout. I've asked the Taoiseach many times whether or not he specifically asked President Biden for vaccines when he met with him via zoom on St Patrick's Day. The Taoiseach has refused to give a clear answer to that question".
"I am aware of situations where patients in nursing homes tested positive for Covid-19 on the day that they were due to get the vaccine, in one such case a huge number of residents died. For many the vaccine came just a week too late. Despite the fact that the vaccine arrived on St Stephen's Day, the first vaccinations weren't administered in private or voluntary nursing homes until 7th January. Of the first 77,000 vaccines administered in this country in January, only 10% of them were for nursing home residents. The contrast between today's headlines north vs south highlight clearly the government's failures when it comes to vaccine rollout. It is my view that we need to source vaccines elsewhere, outside of the EU deal. The Taoiseach must clarify whether or not he asked Biden for vaccines in March", concluded Deputy Tóibín.