Dáil debates

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

European Council Meeting: Statements


5:30 pm

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I am sharing time with Deputy Martin Kenny. The reality is that the EU, Britain and Switzerland are the biggest barriers to the global roll-out of the vaccine because they are blocking the TRIPS waiver in the WTO. The EU, including this Government, is prioritising the profit margins of a handful of pharma companies over human life. The official death toll from Covid is 5 million but Oxfam puts that figure closer to 17 million due to under-reporting of deaths in poorer countries. That is 17 million human beings. We need to have a debate in this House on Ireland's role in denying poorer countries access to the Covid vaccine. This is not just something that is happening somewhere else. As long as the pandemic continues, new variants will cause ongoing restrictions, potential lockdowns, sickness and loss of life right here. Workers will continue to be hit hard. People are already struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to be out of work. Our underfunded healthcare system will be overburdened and people will go without treatment that they need. Healthcare staff are already at breaking point. They will continue to shoulder the burden. The pandemic was a disaster but every new strain is a failure to roll out vaccines globally. How individuals and states act on this issue will be remembered for a long time. I ask the Minister of State to ensure this is raised at the European Council meeting.


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