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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 23 October 2021

Taoiseach on defensive as he faces backlash from his own party over hospitality vaccine cert plan

The Taoiseach said he is “worried about the Delta variant”.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has faced strong criticism at tonight’s Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting as members lined up to object to proposals for vaccine certs as part of the reopening of hospitality.  

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said in its advice to government on Monday that indoor dining could initially return for fully vaccinated persons only before a wider reopening at a later point.  

Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe without indoor dining currently available, with some countries requiring a vaccination cert to dine inside.

The Taoiseach said in an address yesterday that the government is to look at bringing a similar plan into operation here but there has been strong objections from both young hospitality workers and opposition politicians. 

Members of Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party also voiced concerns this evening, with several questioning the approach and seeking a reversal. 

Limerick TD Willie O’Dea is understood to have questioned whether there was adequate support in the Dáil to pass legislation for the proposals after earlier tweeting that the plans amounted to “medical apartheid”.  

Several objections referenced the apparent unfairness on young people especially, who may be forced to work in hospitality while unvaccinated but cannot avail of the same services.  

Senator Lisa Chambers raised these specific concerns and suggested that the proposals be reconsidered.  

Some of the strongest criticism of the Taoiseach came from Sligo/Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry who said he has “no confidence” in the Taoiseach or Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and that he was “appalled” by what he termed as the “utter incompetence of recent days”.

The Taoiseach is understood to have strongly defended himself against claims of incompetence and pointed to government decisions that have driven case numbers down. 

He acknowledged that yesterday’s announcement postponing the reopening of indoor hospitality was “a blow to everyone” but that he he is “worried about the Delta variant”. 

The Taoiseach said he was “open minded” about how the plans for the reopening of hospitality might work and that this includes “testing, protocols and vaccination”. 

“I don’t want to keep the sector closed and we will work with them,” the Taoiseach said.

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Rónán Duffy

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