LABOUR PARTY leader Alan Kelly has echoed the frustrations of many with a stinging attack on the Minister for Health’s handling of Ireland’s ongoing Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
Alan Kelly was one of several to criticise Stephen Donnelly in the Dáil afte mixed messages over the number of Covid jabs arriving into the country.
Donnelly told the Dáil that "slightly less than a million doses" of Covid vaccines would arrive this month.
However, Sinn Féin's health spokesperson David Cullinane said Donnelly had told a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting held just a day earlier that 860,000 would be received.
"This is what confuses people," Cullinane said.
"When they are changing overnight and different figures are being given in different meetings and different settings for different reasons, that does not inspire confidence."
The Health Minister defended the change in numbers, placing the blame at the feet of the manufacturers.
"The figures we are given by the pharmaceutical companies are changing, sometimes on weekly basis, sometimes on a daily basis," he told the Dáil.
"The exact debate you and I are having right now is the issue. Because once we give figures that we know are going to change, those change and then people jump up and down and say this is an outrage and it undermines the programme."
However, this response simply did not wash with the Labour Party leader.
"What the hell is going on here?” a visibly frustrated Kelly asked.
“You are responsible to Dáil Eireann, you are responsible to the people of Ireland, and you are refusing to give out the estimated figures for vaccines for the next three months which the whole country is dependent on," he said.
"This is not fair, it is not right and the people of Ireland are being let down," Kelly added.
"This is incompetent, it goes beyond politics. You are accountable to this House and when you are asked questions about figures you give them as you know them at this time."
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The meeting also saw Donnelly defend plans for changes to the priority list for vaccines.
He told the Dáil the change, which was made by National Immunisation Advisory Council and endorsed by NPHET, was due to "very, very strong evidence that the single biggest predicter in terms of risk is age, particularly when those with underlying conditions are already prioritised."
However, those claims are unlikely to wash with critics who have accused the government of downgrading and abandoning key workers despite their incredible efforts during the pandemic.
The criticism came at the end of a difficult few days for Donnelly, who was forced to cease vaccinations at a private hospital after it emerged jabs were being administered to staff at a local private school.