Posted on 4th February 2021

Slane Castle

Isn’t it bloody rich of the EU Commission to jump up and down giving out about the reduction in delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine when as of writing this column the European Medicines Agency has not given clearance for the use of the vaccine.  The bald truth is that the Commission wasted 3 valuable months haggling over prices and trying to drive a hard bargain on indemnity.  In the meantime the UK has been steaming ahead.  Their decisiveness and sense of urgency will save lives.  Now what amazes me is that we don’t have any of our politicians demanding answers from the Commission.  The production of this vaccine is a delicate process and things can go wrong.  However, it is clear that the British authorities got directly involved to make sure there were no supply chain issues in the British plants.  The EU has been flexing its muscles and subjecting AstraZeneca to aggressive public and private briefings and effectively demanding that they divert some of the British production to the EU.  This prompted one British commentator to state starkly “ Brussels wants Britons to die so that Europeans can live”.  In truth one can hardly see any British government agreeing to divert doses bought and paid for, most particularly as the lives of UK citizens depend on it.  However, from the facts available this looks like a catastrophic failure on the part of the EU. For many months readers of this column will know that I have always favoured this vaccine.  Apart from its effectiveness, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to store.  Of course, I have a certain bias towards it as several of the leading lights behind it are Irish.  However, what is most attractive is that the primary motive behind the project is not profit.  They want to make it as widely available as possible.

So I would suggest that the fire power of the Taoiseach and the government should be directed at the Commission and they should demand answers because a delayed roll-out of the vaccine not only endangers lives but extends the lock-down that is strangling the economy.  Maybe they should think outside the box ?  It is more than possible that vulnerable citizens in Northern Ireland will shortly all have been inoculated.  There is much talk about how essential it is to have an all-Ireland approach to the pandemic.  Well now is a golden opportunity to make a great leap forward and approach Boris Johnson’s government to get us an allocation from one of the AstraZeneca’s British plants.  I am sure if one examined the entrails of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the North-South structures a way could be found.  After all when the Commissars in Brussels have failed us surely we have every right to protect the nation.  Just think what such a development would do to Anglo-Irish relations.

This is, of course, a radical idea and maybe we need this sort of thinking.  Our government is re-active and not pro-active.  They are behind the curb and the people’s thinking is way ahead of them.  Take the issue of travel.  It was crystal clear that the public wanted quarantines but every time a politician popped up on the airwaves there were obstacles.  Maybe I’ve been locked up too long but I can’t take such negativeness anymore.

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