SINN FEIN president Mary Lou McDonald has called on the UK to show “generosity and solidarity” by sharing share any spare coronavirus vaccinations with Ireland.
Speaking during an interview with Sky News, McDonald was asked whether she would like to see any excess doses diverted from the UK to the Republic, given the EU’s slow rollout of vaccines across the bloc.
She responded: "Certainly if there is an excess of supply in Britain and if there is a capacity for that to be shared with Ireland at some point, well, yes, of course, absolutely, the project here is to get people vaccinated.
"This is a race against this virus and against death so, yes, I think a spirit of fairness and generosity needs to prevail in this, my goodness, above all other issues.
"So, yes, is the answer, and if the scenario were vice versa I would expect that a similar generosity would be afforded to the British people because the virus doesn't care about politics or borders or any of these things."
McDonald added: "We all share the same human biology and it's just so important that the incredible work that has been done by scientists internationally, including at Oxford University, and across the globe, that the fruits of that endeavour and knowledge and expertise is shared in the way that good science would intend, and that means keeping all of our fellow human citizens safe and alive and well."
The comments came on a weekend in which the first batch of 21,600 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Ireland from Belgium.
These vaccines will be distributed to healthcare workers next week.
Two other vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, are being used to vaccinate the over-70s.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was previously ruled out for anyone over the age of 70 in Ireland amid concerns about its efficacy for this age group.
Delays are now expected due to the significant supply issues, with Ireland relying solely on Pfizer and Moderna shots for the elderly.
The news comes with "thousands" of nursing staff reportedly still waiting to be vaccinated.