Dr Glynn acknowledges need to answer legitimate vaccination questions, but no such opportunity for TDs
“While I welcome the intervention by Dr Ronan Glynn on the roll-out of the vaccination programme, and his acknowledgement that people have legitimate questions that need to be answered, sadly nobody told Government which has decide not to allow for questions and answers during a curtailed debate on the Covid vaccination programme,” says Denis Naughten TD.
“In total 54 seconds per TD has been allocated for statements on Thursday evening on the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine and this was only after the opposition released 75 minutes from a private members debate.
“Such a curtailed debate runs contrary to the comments last night by Dr Glynn who stated ‘of course, many people will have questions. They will no doubt be faced with rumour and misinformation, particularly online. To counter this, transparency and trust must be the cornerstone of our approach to addressing uncertainties and building vaccine confidence’.
“Having objected to such a limited debate at last week’s Business Committee of Dáil Éireann, I subsequently wrote to An Taoiseach seeking a far broader debate with questions and answers in advance of the roll out of the vaccine programme [attached].
“I now hope in light of Dr. Glynn’s comments that Government will reconsider its approach and facilitate an open and transparent debate on the vaccination programme,” concluded Denis Naughten.
From: Denis Naughten
Sent: 11 December 2020 14:08
Further to my email to you of 3rd December regarding the roll-out of the Covid 19 vaccination programme, I am again writing to you to express my deep concern with regard to the lack of engagement with the political groupings in Dáil Éireann.
In my last correspondence I had sought a full and detailed briefing on the whole Covid-19 plan in advance of any publication or public announcement. This did not happen.
This lack of engagement has now developed into something just short of farcical in terms of the ‘so-called debate’ that is to take place next Thursday night in Dáil Éireann.
The one and only ‘debate’ on the roll-out of the most significant and complex vaccination programme ever considered by the State consist of statements where there is just a mere 54 seconds being allocated per Dáil Deputy by Government.
The complexity of the indemnity being provided to the vaccine manufacturers requires discussion alone, particularly with regard to how we will monitor and manage adverse reactions to a whole range of vaccines using different delivery vectors.
During the discussion next Thursday, on the very last night that the Dáil sits, no questions can be tabled to the Government and no answers will be forthcoming, and this is just before a Christmas recess where those who oppose this vital vaccination programme will have free reign to peddle misinformation.
As you will be aware I expressed my deep concern to the Chief Whip at the Business Committee meeting yesterday morning pointing out that we needed an extensive debate, including questions and answers, so that we are all as Teachta Dála in a position to support the vaccination efforts to eliminate Covid-19 from our country.
As you know from your time as Minister for Health over my years in Dáil Éireann while promoting vaccination I have questioned Government on its vaccination strategies, in the interests of the people of this State, but in terms of this particular vaccination programme I am being denied that right.
Let me remind you that on 9th November last Dr Jessica Doyle of the Oireachtas Library & Research Service published a paper for Members on vaccine hesitancy and over the last 6 weeks I have chaired two separate discussions for Members on Covid vaccines in preparation for a full and open debate on this topic.
Yet now we find that we will have a mere 145-minute set of statements, with no Q&A, on the last night of the very last day of the Dáil sitting before this vaccination programme is set to begin.
If Government wants a cross-party constructive approach to this vaccination programme, which I believe is vital to overcome vaccine hesitancy, then I believe that Dáil Éireann should sit next Friday to have a full, open and frank discussion with the Government answering the very legitimate questions that Members – and the public – have on this vital issue.
I would therefore plead with you to review the approach taken by Government at the Business Committee last Thursday morning and not start off the Dáil week next Tuesday with a vote by Government limiting debate on this vital matter.
Denis Naughten TD