No contact with UK about receiving surplus vaccines, Taoiseach says

No contact with UK about receiving surplus vaccines, Taoiseach says

A report in The Sunday Times claimed that Britain could offer as many 3.7 million inoculations to the Republic, in part to help ease lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland. Pic; Larry Cummins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has poured cold water on suggestions that Ireland could receive surplus vaccines from the UK.

A report in The Sunday Times claimed that Britain could offer as many 3.7 million inoculations to the Republic, in part to help ease lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland.

First Minister Arlene Foster backed the proposal on Monday, saying she had raised the issue with Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month and will do so again.

But speaking later, the Taoiseach said he had received no official contact from the UK government on the subject.

Mr Martin said: "I spoke to Boris Johnson six weeks ago.

"At that stage he was very clear that you have to vaccinate his people first, prior to vaccinating anybody else, and they're some distance off that.

"So I think that's where that is.

"There's been no contact since then or no indication from any officials at the British government level in terms of offering any vaccines.

"Of course any vaccines that are available, If we require them, of course we will accept them.

"But there has been no offer at this particular point."

The vaccination rollout in the Republic has lagged behind that in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

This had led to concerns over cross-border travel if Northern Ireland begins to relax lockdown restrictions while a majority in the Republic are still unvaccinated.

But the programme is ramping up, with a total of 786,569 doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered as of Friday March 26.

Of these 567,023 were first doses and 219,546 were second doses.

NI Health Minister Robin Swann said he hopes that the Republic will "catch up" within a month.

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