Sinn Féin Junior spokesperson on Defence Sorca Clarke TD has welcomed Minister Stephen Donnelly’s announcement that all Defence Forces Personnel will be vaccinated before being deployed on overseas duties.
Teachta Clarke said:
“Today I questioned the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly about the government’s new Covid vaccination programme. Overnight the government decided to move to a completely age based strategy without consultation with frontline workers who had lost their priority status.
“This move should have only been taken after broad consultation with the affected groups and their representative bodies. While I, like most people, have the deepest concern and worry about or at-risk groups, the best way we can protect them is by stopping the spread of the virus. Frontline workers are in constant contact with the public and so it is essential we ensure they are vaccinated both for them and the population at large.
“In particular, our Defence Forces personnel who are already putting their lives on the line in missions abroad for the UN or other deployments do not need to be exposed to the risks of the virus when normally travel would be restricted to the countries they are being deployed to. The risk of new variants being brought back to Ireland is also a serious concern.
“For these reasons, I do welcome Minister Donnelly’s response today in the Dáil when he assured me that service members would still be vaccinated before going overseas despite the change in the overall Covid vaccination rollout plan.
“We will keep monitoring the situation to ensure that our soldiers are given the protections they need and that there is no U-turn on this promise.”