Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

14.46 10 Jan 2021


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The leader of the Labour Party has called again for a 'Minister for Vaccines' to be appointed to oversee the programme roll-out in Ireland.

Alan Kelly believes that having one person to make executive decisions on the inoculation schedule will speed up the administration of doses.

His earlier calls in the Dáil for a specialised ministerial role were rejected by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in December.

Speaking to On The Record with Gavan Reilly, Deputy Kelly said there needs to be consistency in the vaccination roll-out.

"I know everyone is working flat out but I think personally someone should be in charge of this, I don't think it can be done directly by a committee," he stated.

"I believe we need transparency, just as regards giving people hope and positivity so every day when we're announcing the amount of people infected, the amount of people in hospital, we should also be announcing the amount of people who have been vaccinated."

The Tipperary TD added that the immunisation roll-out will likely "become a huge logistical issue", and that the most important thing at the moment is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

He said: "From an executive point of view, doing things by committee, and there's always a committee behind the scenes, there has to be one person who makes calls quickly.

"Speed trumps perfection, so a minister, I believe, would be the right way to go.

"I just think in a national emergency, in a situation like this where it's so important, we should do that to avoid issues or situations where there is a delay."

'Speed trumps perfection': Alan Kelly reiterates call for vaccines minister

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It comes as Deputy Kelly criticised the Government’s new agreement with private hospitals as “a bad deal for the public when our acute hospital system is under severe pressure.”

The deal, agreed with 16 private hospitals, will see them making up to 30% of their capacity available to the HSE, depending on the levels of virus the country is facing.

He said today: "This is the biggest emergency we've ever had as a country in modern times, we need this capacity.

"Whatever our people need, we should be able to get access to our private hospitals in a national emergency.

"Tonight, tomorrow night, we could have really serious issues and we need access to the totality of whatever we need, whether it's public or private in order to ensure people's lives are safe and people are treated well and that's why this deal makes me nervous.

"Certainly, for me, it's not at the capacity or the extent that we potentially from an elasticity point of view require and that makes me very concerned."

The Labour leader added that the deal needs to be implemented "immediately".

Main image: Alan Kelly. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

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Alan Kelly Coronavirus Covid-19 Covid-19 Vaccine Labour Party Vaccine Roll-out Ireland Vaccines Minister

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