December 6, 2023

Kilkenny TD clashes with party leader Leo and former ally over vaccine rollout

A Kilkenny TD and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have clashed over the Government’s apparent snub to teachers and gardai in the new vaccination schedule.

The row erupted after the Government has announced it was rolling out the vaccination programme on an age-graded basis – a move that has angered gardai and teachers working on the frontline.

The Irish Independent today reports Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan clashed with his party leader Leo Varadkar over the controversial plans at a virtual meeting 0f the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

Typing into an open chat during the meeting, Deputy Phelan said: “Teachers and gardaí and childcare workers were slated for specific positions on the vaccination schedule.

“Now we have scrapped the list.”

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However, Mr Varadkar argued such a list had never existed, adding: “A list of workers/professions was never defined. Assumptions were made and expectations created but that is a different thing.”

In defensive mode, Mr Varadkar challenged Deputy Phelan, asking him:“Who told them that they were? Send me the link, statement, or circular. Education was in there but was very low on the list 13th or 14th, and they objected to that.”

Deputy Phelan hit back by saying the Tánaiste was being “disingenuous”. And he added: “Answers are tone deaf and there’s an underlying tone about colleagues raising issues which is utterly unacceptable.”

The Kilkenny TD appeared to get support from unlikely sources in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Education Minister Joe McHugh, who both expressed their opinion that gardai and teachers felt left down.

The Tánaiste doubled down and asked the members of the committee to provide him with data proving a teacher is more at risk than a retail worker of becoming seriously ill from contracting the virus. If this could be provided, he would present it to the committee.

Dpeuty Phelan has been contacted for comment.


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