Sinn Féin TD for Meath East Darren O’Rourke this morning challenged the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on the Irish and European position on a TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines.
Teachta O’Rourke said the Government’s position is “shameful and completely out of step with the public mood in Ireland”.
Speaking this afternoon, Teachta O’Rourke said:
“Despite over 100 countries supporting a TRIPS waiver on Covid-19 vaccines, Ireland and the EU continue to act as a roadblock. The EU is ‘the biggest roadblock’ in the words of former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.
“The removal of patent protections from Covid-19 vaccines can provide for their generic manufacture across the world.
“This morning, I asked the Tánaiste if he would advocate for a TRIPS waiver to ensure maximum rollout of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.
“I was appalled at his response. It is clear that the Irish Government will not support a TRIPS waiver and instead point to a range of other options, including compulsory licensing, and to humanitarian donations, either made or scheduled.
“These other options are a distraction and a ploy to delay. They have been on the table for a year now but the Irish Government and their EU counterparts deliberately frustrate.
“Time is of the essence. Government must act now.
“Suggestions of donations and charity are deeply insulting and patronising. Lower income countries want to manufacture their own vaccines.
“They have done it before and will do it again, but some wealthy countries, including Ireland, are blocking this vital avenue.
“The Government’s position is completely out of step with the public mood. In my opinion, the Irish people would vote for a TRIPS waiver in the morning if they could.
“It’s shameful that as a pandemic rages around the world, the Irish government are prioritising the profits of pharmaceutical companies ahead of the public good.
“If we realise the full potential of global vaccine manufacturing capacity, we will prolong the pandemic, and the suffering of the poorest people in the world. The Government must change tact.”