Robin Swann brands health summits refreshingly apolitical as Matt Hancock invites Stephen Donnelly to COVID-19 meeting

The 'English Tory' Matt Hancock has invited Fianna Fáil's Stephen Donnelly to take part in a COVID-19 conference that will be attended by Ulster Unionist, Scottish Nationalist and Welsh Labour health ministers tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 6:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 7:14 pm

Robin Swann revealed today that his southern counterpart would take part in a weekly meeting of UK health ministers planned for Wednesday in order to receive an update on the latest developments around the new mutant variant of the coronavirus in Britain and the ongoing vaccination programme.

Mr. Swann told the Stormont Health committee that the regular summits with Vaughan Gething, Matt Hancock and Joe FitzPatrick [the Scottish public health minister was sacked last week and Mairi Gougeon is scheduled to take part in the meeting tomorrow] were refreshingly apolitical.

"The UK health ministers, the four ministers, have a weekly meeting to update in regards to where we all stand and any concerns that we have and any issues that we are just facing as health ministers.

The British Health Minister Matt Hancock

"I've said this before, I'm not sure if I've said it to yourselves as a committee, but it's one of the most refreshing political meetings I think that I attend.

"You have an Ulster Unionist health minister, a Scottish Nationalist health minister, a Welsh Labour health minister and an English Tory health minister and there is no politics in it because it's all about health," said Mr. Swann.

He revealed that his southern counterpart has been invited to take part in the conference this week.

"Now one of the things that Matt Hancock has actually done as well - Stephen Donnelly's invited to this meeting which is going to be tomorrow that's in regards to where we are. It's to give an update on vaccinations because, as I've said in the past, one of the things that we have actually said to our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland, is that when it comes to the deployment of the Pfizer vaccine, if there are any learnings or lessons that we have, we'll give it to them.

"We'll supply it to them. There is no point in us holding back on that because we want them to roll-out as successful a vaccination programme as we are because it makes sense across this island," he commented.