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Leo Varadkar says he expects children aged five to 11 to be offered Covid vaccines

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he expects children aged between five and 11-years-old to be offered Covid vaccines in the future.

Speaking to the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party this evening, Mr Varadkar said the current wave of Covid is plateauing, but at a high level.

The Tánaiste said the trajectory of the virus is uncertain and the Government is doing everything possible to avoid a lockdown.

He said people are responding positively to the recently announced new restrictions and said the booster campaign is reducing case numbers in people aged over 70.

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The Fine Gael leader said he expects a subsidised scheme for antigen tests to be agreed by the Cabinet next week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also noted a change in behaviour among the public in recent days during a meeting of his parliamentary party

Mr Martin said he and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath will meet with the hospitality industry after the party passed a motion calling for the meeting to take place.

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Fianna Fáil also voted in favour of implementing more financial supports for the sector including continuing the waiver on commercial rates, retaining the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and revamping the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme.

Senators Ollie Crowe, Pat Casey and TD John Lahart brought the motion to the party meeting and it is understood that there was unanimous support for it.

Mr McGrath said supports for a wide range of sectors are being kept under review and said the Budget included €4bn for Covid contingency plans.

In a separate issue at the meeting, minister of state Niall Collins told his Fianna Fáil colleagues that Sinn Féin TDs should be stopped from wearing facemasks which saw ‘Mica 100pc Redress’ in the Dáil.

He raised concerns that branded items should be worn in Leinster House and in the Dáil chamber.

Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn posted photos on social media today of him wearing the ‘Mica 100pc Redress’ mask in the Dáil during leaders questions.

“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath are directly across from me and I am reminding them to do what’s right by our families,” he tweeted.

Sources told Independent.ie this evening that Mr Collins said told the private meeting of his parliamentary party that Sinn Féin TDs should not be wearing the masks in the Dáil.

The meeting also heard several TDs criticise Green Party leader and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan as he has not yet come to meet the party.

The Taoiseach announced earlier this month that Mr Ryan had agreed to attend a meeting in the coming weeks and address their concerns from backbench TDs.

This evening, one source said that TDs and Senators are “suspicious” of Mr Ryan’s policies on roads.

It is understood that TD Eamon Ó Cúiv raised the lack of progress on road and public transport projects.

The Taoiseach also told the meeting that he had a call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tonight about Brexit. He said he stressed the need for negotiation to find the best way forward in issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Education Minister Norma Foley also told the meeting that student teachers will be paid for any work that they do outside of normal college placements as part of Government’s bid to tackle the substitution crisis in schools.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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