Donegal born senator Robbie Gallagher suggests six county vaccines for all of Ulster

A Donegal senator has called for talks to include all of the counties of Ulster in the north’s vaccine programme.

By Kevin Mullan
Saturday, 13th March 2021, 3:28 pm

Robbie Gallagher, who is from Termon but based in Monaghan, raised concerns about the two-speed vaccination roll-out on the island.

Senator Gallagher said it seemed likely the six counties would exit lockdown earlier than the 26 as a consequence of the faster pace at which vaccines are being administered.

“Everyone knows that the level of vaccination in Northern Ireland is far ahead of the level here in the South. We also know that, unfortunately, the level of infection in the Border counties, from County Donegal to County Louth, has been higher throughout the pandemic than in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, County Monaghan, where I live, has topped the charts in respect of the incidence rate.

“While restrictions on both sides of the Border are currently aligned, the success of the vaccination roll-out in the North means that society will open up more quickly in the North than it will in the South,” said the Fianna Fáil senator.

Last weekend the First Minister Arlene Foster voiced similar concerns.

Speaking on RTÉ radio she said: “I believe it would be to the benefit not just of the Republic of Ireland but to Northern Ireland as well if we had a vaccine programme in the Republic that was moving at a faster measure, yes absolutely.”

Senator Gallagher said: “I welcome the comments of the First Minister, Arlene Foster, who suggested that the two Governments should have a conversation about the roll-out of vaccination, with particular regard to citizens of the Border counties.

“I ask that we communicate to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and the Government that such a conversation should take place because increased movement of people along the Border will have repercussions for Border counties, which will be at a different level from counties in NI.”

Fine Gael leader in the Seanad Regina Doherty said: “Senator Gallagher talked about the delays in the vaccination roll-out, the need for a plan B as well as a plan C and for co-operation North and South.”

She said it was a ‘tremendous pity’ that a year after the COVID-19 pandemic reached Ireland they were still talking about co-operation between the North and the South.

“At this stage, talk is cheap. We should be doing things. That responsibility lies on everybody North and South, not just the people who are speaking the loudest.”