TAOISEACH Micheál Martin believes the chief executive of the Beacon should be held accountable for his actions as vaccine operations were suspended at the private hospital.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced this afternoon that vaccine operations were suspended at the hospital.
The move comes in the wake of revelations that schoolteachers and crèche workers were given Covid-19 vaccines by the hospital this week.
The Taoiseach's spokesperson said: “The vaccines belong to the Irish people.
“There are clear rules and guidelines in relation to their administration. These prioritise the most vulnerable and frontline healthcare workers.
“There are specific rules relating to the allocation of surplus vaccines at the end of a day’s administration. Clearly, these rules and guidelines were broken by The Beacon Hospital.
“What happened was wrong and a breach of trust. Behaviour of this sort undermines confidence in the vaccination programme.
“The CEO should be held accountable for his actions by the board of The Beacon Hospital."
In a statement on the suspension of vaccine operations at the Beacon, Minister Donnelly said: "Ireland’s vaccination programme is the most important public health programme in living memory.
"It is essential that the programme is run in accordance with the agreed prioritisation in order to maximise the benefit of the vaccination programme and the speed with which Ireland can emerge from Covid-19 measures. The provision of vaccines by the Beacon Hospital to a school was entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable.
"I have considered this matter carefully and have worked with the HSE to assess the operational implications of suspending vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin.
"I have now asked the HSE to suspend vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital with the exception of those people who have already been scheduled to get their vaccine at the centre. Alternative arrangements are being put in place by the HSE.
"In addition, I have asked the HSE to appoint a senior official to immediately examine what happened and make recommendations regarding any actions or changes required.
"I am also writing to the Board of Beacon Hospital to ask them to conduct a review of what happened including consideration of any appropriate response,” he added.
Earlier today, TD Paul Murphy became the latest politician to call for the CEO of the Beacon Hospital Michael Cullen to resign following the revelation that schoolteachers and crèche workers were given Covid-19 vaccines by the hospital this week.
The People Before Profit Deputy said the Beacon Hospital’s distribution of vaccines to teachers “ahead of even their own patients is grossly immoral and unethical” and said: “he must resign”.
The actions of the hospital, which it said were undertaken due to “time pressure”, have come in for heavy criticism and Mr Cullen yesterdayacknowledged they were “not in line with the sequencing guidelines in place from the HSE”.
Deputy Murphy said: “While these vaccines were given to private school teachers 14km down the road, there were patients in the hospital who needed them and were waiting for them. There is no excuse for what happened”.
Mr Murphy said the fact this happened in the Beacon “inevitably poses the question about whether this has happened with any other vaccines”.
He called for a “rapid investigation”, including representatives of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and patients, to check whether any other vaccines have been diverted.
It's understood Mr Cullen's children attend St Gerard's private school.
Childcare workers and teachers are in Cohort 11 of the Health Service Executive's vaccine roll-out. Cohort 4, including medically vulnerable people aged between 16-69, is the latest cohort to begin receiving vaccines in recent weeks.
Labour leader Alan Kelly yesterday branded Mr Cullen’s actions as “scandalous” and said his position “is now entirely untenable.”
“It’s beyond belief that the CEO thought this type of behaviour would be appropriate or acceptable and there is now a fundamental question over his judgement.
“This two-tier elitism is shocking, and unfortunately, has been enabled by the lack of a cohesive vaccine strategy from the Minister for Health,” Mr Kelly said.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland