Mary Lou McDonald says calls for mandatory Covid vaccinations are 'wrong-headed'

By Robbie Kane & David Donnelly

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald described as ‘wrong-headed’ an idea that Covid-19 vaccines could be made mandatory in the near future.

The Dublin Central TD stated her opposition to vaccine mandates following news tennis star Novak Djokovic won his appeal against his visa cancellation ahead of the Australian Open.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin moved the quell rumours mandatory vaccination would be introduced after minutes from a recent NPHET raised the prospect of a change in policy.

NPHET will discuss the issue at a later date following the publication of a Department of Health paper on the ethical and legal implications of such a mandate.

The minutes, published on Friday, said: “It was noted that the NPHET will discuss the issue of mandatory vaccination at a later date.

“This discussion will be facilitated by a forthcoming paper from the Department of Health on the relevant ethical and legal considerations pertaining to this topic.”

Martin said: “I’ve been very clear that I favour the voluntary approach to vaccination.

“We’ve done extraordinarily well as a country in terms of a 94%vaccination rate for the first and second dose and even 63% for the booster.

“We’re top of the European Union league table in terms of the booster campaign.”

While there’s little indication that a vaccine mandate is an imminent prospect, the news that NPHET will discuss the matter has been the subject of much debate.

McDonald spoke to Dublin Live at the launch of a North Wall CDP Sports & Rec course for early school-leavers and unwaged people in the north inner-city.

Following news Djokovic had won his appeal against the cancellation of his visa, she said a mandate would be an unnecessary and unproductive move.

She said: “I don’t understand, quite frankly, why this is being introduced into the mix. I think it’s wrong-headed. I don’t think it’s necessary.

“I think people have proven to be very, very savvy and very thoughtful about keeping themselves and their families and their communities safe.

Djokovic in action during the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, Spain last year (Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“I know there are some people who haven’t taken up the vaccination, and that’s their choice, and there has to be a level of respect for that.

“I think, for safety’s sake, vaccines are safe and vaccines are the way to go. I know there is a small section of the population who don’t hold that view.

“I don’t believe that making something mandatory is going to change people’s minds, so that’s my take on it.”


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