Mon, 15 Mar, 2021 – 20:35
Taoiseach Micheál Martin must intervene and take control of the vaccine rollout because Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is “asleep at the wheel” and “out of his depth”, the Opposition has said.
The Government had set a deadline of today for getting the quarantine hotel system up and running. Yet, Mr Donnelly has now said he is still unable to definitively state when that will happen.
It is now 10 weeks since the Government promised it would introduce it and two weeks after the legislation was passed by the Dáil.
The Health Minister said contracts with a hotel provider are not yet signed.
“I don’t have an exact date but, but very very soon,” Mr Donnelly said about the matter on Monday.
“We’re getting very close. We’re in the final talks with a single provider who has multiple hotels and will be managing the end-to-end process. The contracts will be signed very shortly,” Mr Donnelly said.
“Once that’s done, we are planning on putting the booking system up online very quickly. Once the booking system has been online just for a few days, it will be up and running,” he added.
Sinn Féin’s health spokesman David Cullinane called on Mr Martin to take charge of the vaccine rollout, saying evidence in recent weeks has shown Mr Donnelly is not up to it.
“Clearly, Stephen Donnelly is out of his depth. I think Stephen Donnelly needs to step up to the plate and I would ask that the Taoiseach would step in and take control of the vaccine rollout. It’s completely unacceptable that we’ve had all of the problems that we have had,” Mr Cullinane said.
The Government has been severely criticised over the slow pace in establishing its quarantine system and the lack of preparedness, despite public health officials calling for such a system as far back as last May.
In total, 11,800 people flew into Dublin Airport last week as the country continues its battle with coronavirus. That is up 2% on the previous seven days.
More than 7,000 Irish people arrived into the airport and “returning from holidays” was the most popular reason given for travelling.
In relation to vaccines, Mr Donnelly said he hoped the European Medicines Agency would report back later this week clearing the AstraZeneca vaccine for use, meaning the suspension of the drug’s use here will be “very short”.
Before the suspension, about 10,000 healthcare workers and 20,000 people aged 16 to 69 deemed to be very high risk due to underlying conditions were expecting to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine this week. Mr Donnelly said “pretty close” to all of the 30,000 people affected by suspension will be vaccinated in March, although some faced waiting until April. In total, 11,800 people flew into Dublin Airport last week, up 2% on the previous seven days. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie