Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly addressing the Seanad sitting in the Dail
Debate in the Seanad on measures that will deny access to pubs and restaurants to the unvaxxed.
Senator Ronán Mullen :
“There is a fundamental injustice underpinning this Bill. The notion of intergenerational solidarity, so extensively promoted by the Government when it suits, has been abandoned. A commitment made and restated by the Tánaiste as recently as four weeks ago that there would be no discrimination between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated has been cynically abandoned. All it took was a wave of the magic wand by NPHET for a set of apocalyptic projections to be accepted by the Cabinet virtually without question”
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly:
“Some people here and in the Dáil suggest that solidarity means that if they cannot have something, then nobody should be allowed to have it. That is not what solidarity involves. I have not met any unvaccinated person who has said that because it is not how people outside this bubble think.
People outside this bubble think that we are doing great. We are faced with a significant wave of the Delta variant. Unvaccinated people say that this has been a horrible experience for our country but that if we can get tens of thousands of men and women back to work, then let us do so and that all they have to do is to wait until they get the Janssen vaccine at their local pharmacy or the Pfizer vaccine at a vaccination centre, which is not a problem. That is what solidarity means.
The only Senator who I will refer to directly is Senator [Ronan] Mullen…I will not take any lectures from Senator Mullen, who campaigned against gay marriage. He can keep his lectures on solidarity to himself.
What about staff? People are saying, as an act of solidarity, to let everyone into the pubs. Think about that for a second. They are saying to put people’s lives at risk as an act of solidarity. We have to be careful when we talk about solidarity. Outside of this place, people get what this means.
Some contributors stated that this is not enforceable. At the same time, however, they tabled amendments to bring in things like antigen testing, which would make it much harder to enforce. Pubs and restaurants are capable of asking people their age before they serve them a drink. They are capable of engaging with people and asking to see their proof of vaccination. Here is mine [displays smartphone with QR code]. At the top of the Covid tracker application is my QR code. It is no more complicated than that.
….We are not discriminating against people. We are differentiating. Differentiation is already in place in the context of international travel. Whether a person is fully vaccinated matters. When we brought that in, nobody suggested that it was discriminatory. People said that was based on what is safe or not. Under-18s are not allowed to be served alcohol in our pubs and restaurants. I do not think anybody here would argue that that is discriminatory. We say that is the case because it is safe.
You are not allowed to smoke inside but that is not discriminatory. It is a public health measure to keep people safe. This is a public health measure to keep people safe. Unvaccinated people who I have spoken to get that. The only place that this does not seem to resonate is in the Oireachtas.”
The measures in the bill were passed with little opposition and 24 senators absent during the vote.
Friday: “We’re Not Discriminating, We’re Differentiating.”
Scarce coverage and zero debate on dividing society on medical grounds. This letter in this morning’s Irish Times appears to be the only letter on this critical matter since the announcement…
Irish Times Letters