Monday, 29 March 2021
Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements
Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
What happened is unacceptable. It sent out the wrong signal. For everybody, this stank of privilege. That is what it looked like to everybody. It should not have happened. I have suspended vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital. I done so following consultation with the HSE. Some people asked why it did not happen immediately. I wanted to make sure there was capacity to put in place alternative vaccination arrangements at very short notice. We did not want a situation whereby we acted instantly and later found that what we were doing was denying good, innocent people the opportunity to be vaccinated. I worked closely with the HSE to ensure alternative arrangements could be put in place very quickly and then we suspended operations at the Beacon Hospital. A letter is also being sent to the board asking for a full account, including, as raised by Senator Conway, whether other vaccines in the care of the Beacon Hospital have gone outside of prioritisation. These vaccines do not belong to the Beacon Hospital or to any hospital; they belong to the Irish people. We are taking what happened there very seriously.
Senator Clifford-Lee spoke well and appropriately about what young people have been through. For the many people who attend college for three years, they are some of the best years of their lives. I studied engineering and a certain amount of it was very boring but college years are good years. Many students will have lost two years of college time or, perhaps, two years in fifth and sixth year class and their time as young people. They have been severely curtailed and that has been incredibly difficult for them. I agree that they need to be acknowledged for the sacrifices they have made.
As referenced earlier by a colleague, because of the level 5 measures and people getting behind them, Ireland has moved from having one of the highest rates anywhere in Europe in the very recent past to having one of the lowest rates. That progress has been hard won by every household in this country.
Is the Chairperson happy for me to continue a little longer?