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Leah Farrell NPHET members Professor Philip Nolan, Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn.

Minister claims he was speaking in 'personal' capacity when he called for second opinion on NPHET advice

NPHET issued advice to government yesterday.

LAST UPDATE | Jun 29th 2021, 9:21 PM

A MINISTER FOR State was speaking in his own personal capacity when he said that Ireland should get a second opinion on NPHET advice, it was claimed this evening. 

The Green Party has issued a statement this evening claiming that Ossian Smyth was giving his own “personal advice” when he told RTÉ radio that “we will be looking at it again independently”.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) issued advice to government yesterday with four different scenarios for the next three months that modelled the potential of between 250 and 2,170 deaths. 

On the foot of this advice, Cabinet postponed the reopening of indoor hospitality and agreed to work on a plan that would see people who are fully vaccinated or had recovered from Covid-19 return to indoor hospitality before a full reopening.  

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said in a letter that the Delta variant would “grow sharply over the coming weeks”. 

Speaking to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Tús Áite programme, Ossian Smyth said the government would seek a second opinion on the NPHET projections from the likes of the World Health Organization or the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

“We will be looking at it again independently… on the figures outside of NPHET. We will ask them [an independent authority] to look at the figures independently,” said Smyth, who is the Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment. 

However, a statement to RTE this evening claims the above quotes were from Smyth himself and were not representative of the Government. 

It reads: “Minister Smyth was asked on Raidió na Gaeltachta this evening if he believed independent scrutiny of NPHET’s advice would be worth getting. He gave his personal advice that it would. The Government will continue to consider the issue of how best to proceed over the coming days.”

NPHET advice

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the “optimistic” scenario presented by NPHET was akin to a flu season, while the pessimistic one was closer to the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s just not possible for us to know at the moment how long this Delta wave will last or how bad it will be. We will see that unfold in Scotland and in England over the next couple of weeks but we’re erring on the side of caution here,” Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said NPHET’s advice made clear that if the country was to proceed with 5 July reopening plans, “we would significantly increase the risk of the more negative scenarios and the pessimistic scenarios that they have outlined”.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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