Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that the lack of north-south communication on Covid-19 at Ministerial level is alarming.
He has called for clarity on the direct engagement between the two Ministers for Health. He said that, under the circumstances, there is understandably a focus on the cyberattack but that this is not the first time that Minister Swann has raised concerns regarding the lack of engagement from Minister Donnelly.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“This morning we heard yet again from Minister Robin Swann that the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has not been engaging directly with him regarding Covid-19.
“More than two weeks ago, Minister Swann sought a meeting with Minister Donnelly to discuss Covid-19 easing of restrictions, messaging, and the like.
“Frankly, it is alarming. This comes at a time when there are variants of concern circulating across the island despite the vaccine rollout progressing well.
“Substantial differences remain in the two rollouts, with convergence not likely for a number of months yet.
“Both jurisdictions need to be aligned in terms of messaging and in terms of restrictions insofar as they can, but that cannot happen without direct Ministerial engagement and cooperation.
“We are one island – one epidemiological unit – and the Minister has consistently agreed with this statement.
“While, understandably, the focus in the last week and a half has been on the cyberattack, the Minister has never translated the commitment to all-island action into deed.
“I understand that there are several outstanding invitations for meetings between the two ministers, which Minister Donnelly has not yet scheduled.
“The relationship is clearly not what it should be, and coordination has not been at the level you would expect.
“There is a need for clarity on the engagement to date between the two ministers.
“I will be asking the Minister how many direct engagements he has had with Minister Swann, how often they have met to formally discuss and align strategy and coordination.
“Official-level engagement is important and ongoing, but an all-island approach cannot happen without ministerial engagement.”