Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Post-European Council Meeting: Statements
Across the Continent of Europe, the single most important project that faces governments in this moment remains the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is only right and just that the European Council would focus on vaccines as the primary political issue at its recent meeting. Across Europe and here in Ireland, we have measured the impact of the pandemic across several key areas, for example, health, through the number of fatalities and hospitalisations, including ICU referrals, and infections. Financially, we have seen the impact on businesses and families and on the nation's economic outlook. In the social sphere, there has been an impact on families, individuals and various sectors of society due to the effects of isolation and much more.
The key and prevailing theme put forward by both the Government and commentators has been that we are all in this together. It was this sense of social cohesion that drove the nation's efforts at key junctures when we were all forced to dig deep as we attempted to bring the infection rates down at the moment in which we came closest to despair. It is a tragedy to witness an unravelling of this social compact from the centre of acquired privilege. It appears that a self-appointed elite in this country continues to march to a different drumbeat. Today, the doling out of Covid-19 vaccines has become akin to the dispensing of patronage. The first phase of the pandemic in Ireland was marred by "golfgate", where the cosy relationships between politicians, financial institutions, the Judiciary and the media were exposed against the backdrop of a sense of entitlement. These links are yet to be fully explored. The latest phase is marred by the scandalous revelations regarding the Beacon private hospital, an institution that turned its back on the people of this State in the moment of our most dire need. The CEO of this hospital sees fit to behave in the manner of an Italian Renaissance prince by dispensing vaccines to the great and good at the expense of the people, some of whom may very well die as a result.
We need to know what measures will be put in place to ensure the EU funding programme to aid the economic recovery from the coronavirus will not suffer the same fate as the vaccination programme. The Taoiseach said that we will not be out of this until everyone is out of it and I agree wholeheartedly with that. Some pharmaceutical companies are attempting to profiteer on the back of this pandemic, which I absolutely deplore. I urge the Government to step up to the mark and, along with other European countries, sign up to the Covid-19 technology access pool, C-TAP, initiative, which would allow the patents of those pharmaceutical companies to be used in developing countries and countries that are less well off. I urge the Government to take the lead and sign up to C-TAP with immediate effect.