EU vaccine rollout ‘unacceptably slow’ says WHO
Ray Bassett was speaking at a time of increasingly strained post-Brexit relations between Britain and the EU, exacerbated by the row over European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent threat to ban exports of AstraZeneca vaccines. However, reports last week suggested Boris Johnson’s Government was considered offering 3.7 million vaccines to the Republic, something former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas Mr Bassett said would be extremely helpful going forward.
According to the Our World in Data website, as of March 31, the number of vaccines per 100 people which Ireland has so far administered (16.6) was slightly below the average for the EU27 (17.03), and less than one-third of the UK’s rate (52.53).
He told Express.co.uk: “This vaccination fiasco demonstrates beyond doubt that the Euro devotion of our leaders comes at a high price.
“The move for the UK to offer some vaccines to the Republic of Ireland would be a good idea as the post Brexit period has been difficult for Ireland.
Leo Varadkar was sharply criticised by Mr Bassett
Micheal Martin replaced Mr Varadkar as Taoiseach last year
“There is a serious need to reset the relationship between London and Dublin and a magnanimous gesture, particularly after the unhelpful conduct of Leo Varadkar during Brexit, would be greatly appreciated and strategically good for the UK.”
Mr Bassett outlined his vision for the future of British/Irish relations in Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, the book which he published last year.
He explained: “Ireland, under Taoiseach Micheal Martin, has moved subtly away from Varadkar’s anti-British stance.
Leo Varadkar hosts Boris Johnson in Dublin as Taoiseach
“Martin, along with Dutch PM Mark Rutte, helped lead the opposition inside the EU to tighter export controls on vaccines, something that was in the UK’s interest.
“An Irish/British anglophone alliance could be very useful for both countries.”
Speaking about the possibility of the UK giving Ireland some of its excess vaccines last week, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Foreign Minister, welcomed the idea, in theory at least, while remaining guarded.
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Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Tanaiste
Coronavirus vaccine rates
He told the Irish Times: “Of course, if there was, we’d be very interested in, in talking to the British government about that.”
However, he added: “Less than six per cent of adults in the UK have received their second jab. So there are tens of millions of people still to get their first jab in the UK.
“There may well be excess vaccines at some point in the future but I don’t think we’re realistically, looking at that for, for many, many weeks yet.”
Leo Varadkar factfile
The Sunday Times last week suggested Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, cabinet minister Michael Gove and Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis had discussed the possibility, with one cabinet source suggesting it start after Easter.
However, an Irish government source told the Irish Times: “There’s been no contact whatsoever.
“It’s coming at a time when they’ve publicly announced they have a vaccine shortage in April.”
“We don’t expect to have any vaccine supply issues.
Ray Bassett is Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas
“Vaccine rollout in Ireland is actually starting to take off like a rocket, the supply is clearly ramping up.”
Fine Gael Mr Varadkar stepped down as Taoiseach last June in accordance with the coalition deal which saw Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin take the top job.
Since then he has remained as Tanaiste, or deputy Prime Minister, with the possibility of swapping jobs with Mr Martin once again next year.
However, his controversial decision when still Taoiseach to leak a copy of a doctors’ pay deal between the State and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to his friend, Dr Maitiu O Tuathail has left him under enormous pressure, especially since police launched a criminal investigation into the affair.