Seanad debates

Monday, 29 March 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements

 

10:30 am

Photo of Lorraine Clifford-LeeLorraine Clifford-Lee (Fianna Fail)

Like everybody else, I am eagerly awaiting tomorrow's announcement. It will be a difficult day because many people are expecting changes and feel we deserve such changes in light of the enormous efforts they have made. Many people understand that we are at a very crucial stage in the life cycle of the virus. The Minister has reaffirmed the need to hold firm for another few weeks.

I am very pleased to hear the nursing home statistics the Minister read out. Tomorrow, we need to hear hopeful statistics like that. We also need a roadmap out of this because people need hope. They also need to know if we hold firm we will be getting the 1 million doses of vaccine per month for the next four months and that they will be delivered in as speedy a fashion as they have been delivered to date.

What happened at the Beacon Hospital last week was very unfortunate. People I have spoken to have been horrified that it could happen. The public solidarity that has been shown over the past year has been shaken. I commend the Minister on his swift action and also the swift statements by the Taoiseach regarding the matter. We need to maintain that public solidarity in the vaccine roll-out schedule because, as the Minister outlined, it will be ramping up significantly in the next few months.

I wish to take a moment to reflect on some of the heroes of the pandemic. We have heard of course about the health worker heroes, but another cohort of heroes have gone wholly unnoticed, namely, the young people of Ireland. They have missed school, missed milestones and missed relationships. They have not had opportunities to go to the Gaeltacht, to complete their leaving certificate, to go to debs, or to partake in sports, drama, music or play dates. They have taken it very well and they have adapted well to the changing circumstances. They have dealt with considerable stress in their communities and in their families. I am very conscious that they do not have powerful lobby groups like many other people involved. Sometimes their voices are not heard in debates of this nature. Today, I pay tribute to the young people of Ireland. I suggest that perhaps we could have a national day to celebrate young people once we are out of the woods on this. It would be just a small measure to thank them for the solidarity they have shown. They have played such an important role in the handling of the pandemic that it would be remiss of us not to mark their solidarity.

I thank the Minister for his update. We thank him and his colleagues for the work they are doing. We look forward to those millions of vaccine doses coming into the country.

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