Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has admitted Ireland is starting the roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine at a slower pace than other countries.
The European Union launched a vaccination programme on Sunday, after the Pfizer/BioNTech drug was approved on December 21st.
However Ireland will not begin vaccinations until December 30th, despite the first doses arriving here on St Stephen's Day.
Mr Varakdar told On The Record while he not "100% sure" as to the reason for the delay, he believes it is logistical.
"What I'm told is it just takes a couple of days to organise things - and while you could have done a few people in the initial days, that the authorities thought it was better to start on Wednesday and start it properly, if you like".
"It is going to begin in earnest on Wednesday, we've 10,000 doses [that] have arrived, we'll have roughly 40,000 doses arriving every week from January".
This will begin with people in long-term care facilities, nursing homes and the staff working there.
"I think we'll probably start a little bit slower, but catch up".
"We're part of the European system, we get 1.11% of the vaccine - and that's in proportion with our population - and I think we probably will start a little bit slower than other countries, but we will catch up".
"I don't see it as a race, I think it's important that we do it right".
He also said more vaccines are coming on-stream, which will add to capacity.
"We'd anticipate now that the Moderna vaccine will be approved on the 6th of January - that's not part of the current schedule... so that'll bring an additionality already in the first half of January.
"And there seems to be a good chance that the AstraZeneca one will be approved by the end of January.
"And that's particularly important because we've pre-ordered a huge number of them - more so than we did for Pfizer".
But Mr Varadkar added that he cannot see restrictions being removed to allow mass gatherings "until the summer at the earliest".
'A day of hope'
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said the arrival of the vaccine in the country was "a day of hope for Ireland".
"We're going to be targeting people in nursing homes, people who work in the nursing home sector, and our frontline healthcare workers just to begin with".
He also said that Ireland would see "tens of thousands" of deliveries of the vaccine every week through January.
"It's been a really, really tough year for Ireland right across this country", he said.
"My ask as Minister for Health for the country now is please stick with the public health advice, stick with the measures.
"We've shown incredible solidarity, incredible resilience - we've been minding each other and keeping each other safe all year.
"While we get these vaccines out, and while we vaccinate more and more people, we need to stick with it".