Regina Doherty says Stephen Donnelly needs to explain himself over vaccine portal breaches
Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty said that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly needs to explain himself after the healthcare worker vaccine portal breaches.
Ms Doherty, whose party is in coalition with Mr Donnelly‘s party Fianna Fail, said that the Health Minister ‘is the person who is most accountable’ for issues identified in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Irish Daily Mail reporter Craig Hughes reported on Friday that the Minister was aware that a link to a portal for frontline healthcare workers to register for vaccination was being abused by members of the public 10 days before the portal was pulled offline.
This means that there are potentially thousands of people who are not frontline healthcare workers who were able to secure at least one vaccine dose by skipping the queue set out by Government.
Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Hughes pointed out that the link for the portal had been posted on the Reddit Ireland page, which had over 370,000 members, shared on WhatsApp and had been circulated by private companies.
He said that 235,000 people classed as healthcare workers have been vaccinated so far, but the HSE only employs around 80,000 healthcare workers and the exact number of private healthcare workers eligible for a vaccine appointment through the portal is unknown.
Responding to the issues outlined about the rollout, Ms Doherty said: ‘On January 13 I brought it to the attention of the HSE, and I have no proof of this, but I was told that an accountant working for a hospital that’s only being built, so there isn’t even any patients, and you couldn’t classify an accountant as a frontline worker, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, had been given their vaccine appointment date.
‘That’s just not good enough. It’s not even nearly anecdotal at this stage. There is overwhelming evidence that there has been an abuse of trust.
‘I know the statement from Paul Reid yesterday said it was a trust-based system, and that’s true, maybe it shouldn’t have been, but we now know that trust has been abused.
‘There are questions that need to be answered and there is accountability that needs to be held for the people who are in charge of the vaccine and that starts at the HSE and goes right all the way up to the top of Government.’
Mr Hughes then asked Senator Doherty about whether Minister Donnelly needed to be held accountable for waiting 10 days after learning of the vaccine portal being abused before he shut it down.
She responded: ‘I don’t disagree with you Craig and I’m sorry I haven’t seen the Minister’s statement about what he did or didn’t do.