Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Covid-19 Pandemic

7:35 pm

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State for her response. I am encouraged by the positive way in which she and the Department have taken this issue. I completely accept there are certain concerns in regard to the digital green certificate concept and I certainly understand, as the Commission has said, that being vaccinated will not be a precondition for travel. In fact, all EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement within the EU and this applies regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. The same principle applies to the rights of non-EU nationals staying or residing in EU member states, who have the right to travel to other EU member states.

The digital green certificate will make it easier to exercise that right through testing and recovery certificates. I completely understand and accept this. Again, I would like to state I am not, by any means, attempting to suggest that we should be returning to the air tomorrow. Of course, we should not do that because it is not safe to do so, and only those who have essential reasons to do so should return to the air. However, in a number of weeks or months, we will be in that position. I believe this certificate is a good way of providing certainty and clarity to users, to pilots and to everybody on board an aeroplane and in airports by giving the certainty that the vast majority of people in Ireland have been vaccinated. There is the high probability, of course, that our fellow Europeans will also be vaccinated as well.

Of course, I should say this sort of certificate is not a first. My colleague in the European Parliament, Colm Markey, MEP, stated this evening that in the 1960s and 1970s, there were smallpox certificates and, prior to that, there were yellow fever certificates, so these are not new developments. However, I am encouraged by what I have heard this evening and I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, for her response. As I have said, it is imperative that we are prepared for the return of our hospitality and tourism sectors, and the digital green certificate is an excellent way of achieving that goal.


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