Political accountability needed on vaccine rollout – we need to know who is ultimately in charge

Alan Kelly TD
03 December 2020
  • Contradictory announcements from Government on vaccine rollout
  • Government need to outline how they will deal with companies who want to provide the vaccine privately to employees
  • Need to examine whether we need emergency data legislation given past issues with the PSC card

Speaking at Leaders Questions, Labour Leader and Health Spokesperson, Alan Kelly challenged the Tánaiste on contradictory announcements from Government on the vaccine rollout plan and said that political accountability is needed and that we need to know who is ultimately in charge to address the many outstanding issues with the plan.

Deputy Kelly said:

“Today’s Irish Times reported that Minister Donnelly is bringing a memo to government next Tuesday in relation to the prioritization of the vaccines. However, the Taoiseach said to me that we’d have to wait for the expert review groups report on Friday. I’m confused, which is it? Who is leading here on this? Is it on Tuesday we’ll know about priorities, or is it on Friday from the MacCraith expert report?

“We have the Cabinet and the Cabinet sub-committee making decisions and rightly so, the expert MacCraith Group, the National Immunization Office, the National Immunization Advisory Committee, NPHET, the HSE, and obviously the Department of Health. Who is in control? Who is making the decisions here, who has got seniority as regards decision making?

“We have all seen the issues in relation to NPHET making statements in the past, and the Government making different statements. I’ve just read a list of groups that all have a massive role to play but we can’t have confusion. I think we need one person in charge, and I repeat that today.

“About a year and a half ago we had a quite a lot of controversy over the Public Service Card. How are we going to to manage data here? The only unique identification code in this country is the PPS number, hanging off that in a new database that will have to be built through the National Immunization Office will be a whole range of information in relation to underlying illnesses and personal details belonging to people and we need to be prepared for that. Does it need new emergency legislation?

“Also, if a company decides privately that they are going to buy this vaccine to give to their workers. Will they be allowed to do so? The issue is public versus private and shouldn’t it be based on need, and not based on whether somebody is going to be able to pay for it and do we need legislation on this with the state controlling how this is given out?

“Public health officials have to play a massive role in the world out of this but they are going on strike because their pay is 48% less than Consultants, how are the Government going to deal with this considering the role they’ll have in the rollout of these vaccines.

“The issue of private vaccination when we have to control the process by which this is rolled out is a very legitimate question. I’d appreciate if this was considered by Government because we may need legislation.

Deputy Kelly continued:

“There are still many unanswered questions in relation to the vaccine rollout plan and we have had unhelpful contradictory announcements from Government in recent days. We need to know ultimately who is politically accountable in order to address the legitimate issues, I have raised.

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