The Taoiseach should receive the coronavirus vaccine ahead of Cabinet colleagues to travel to the US, according to a Fine Gael Junior Minister.
Fine Gael Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy said on Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast that Taoiseach Micheál Martin should be vaccinated to be able to travel to the US for the St Patrick’s Day visit.
Mr Brophy said that Cabinet Ministers should then be vaccinated as per the vaccine priority list and should be “no exception” to the list.
“I don’t think that with the exception of the Taoiseach and for the reason of the US visit, that Ministers should come anywhere different on the list to where they would be based on the criteria outlined by medical professionals,” he said.
Minister Brophy said that he is against changing the order of prioritisation on the vaccine list.
“Lots of people make the case all the time as to why we should maybe move this group up here or this group down or change it around. I've always had the same view that we shouldn't and that applies to Ministers as well.
“There’s a logical clear exception as to why the Taoiseach should [be vaccinated] - to facilitate St Patrick’s Day visit.”
He also raised the question of if certain Cabinet Ministers were to be vaccinated, how the decision would be made between the Minister for Health or members of Nphet.
“Everybody has important jobs, really important jobs.
“Where do you vaccinate the people in Nphet, the CMO? Where do you vaccinate the head of the HSE versus the Minister for Health? It just becomes almost an impossible scenario,” he added.
Minister Brophy also said on the podcast that the €500 fine for non-essential travel to overseas did not have a “sufficient” impact for some people, which is why the fine has been hiked to €2,000 in recent days.
“For some people, €500 wasn’t regarded as a sufficient impact and that’s why you have to have that flexibility. I don’t think there was anything wrong with choosing €500 as the initial figure.”