The Workers’ Party councillor Éilis Ryan has said Ireland should consider making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory.
The Dublin North Inner City councillor made the comments on Newstalk’s Hard Shoulder, saying we should “absolutely” think about making the vaccine mandatory when it arrives.
“Earlier this year, we wasted precious months of time without making the wearing masks in public places mandatory,” she claimed.
“There is some misguided idea that if we make something mandatory, people wouldn’t be inclined to go along with it – that was proved to be completely false.
“If getting a vaccine is something that public health officials say is to be encouraged in large numbers, then I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be made mandatory.”
Claiming that people would appreciate the “clarity” of making a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory, Ryan said that anyone who wants “the privilege of using shared public spaces also has a responsibility to the other people using those spaces.”
“It’s not fair that, for example, one parent might decide that they don’t like the sound of vaccinations and as a result of that every other child that’s in school with that parent’s child is exposed to risks.
“I think that over a period of time, when it has become widely available, any individual who decides they don’t want to be part of that public security net of vaccination, shouldn’t have the right to access public spaces automatically,” Ryan insisted.
Anthony Staines, professor of Health Systems at DCU, said he would have “some reservations” about a mandatory vaccination programme, saying it might send “anti-vax” campaigners on the “warpath”.
“On balance, I wouldn’t go for it – at the very least we should do some work before making a decision,” he explained.
“There is a small cohort of anti-vaccine people in our society – I think they’re wrong in their beliefs, but that’s another story – but they would use this as a reason to go on the warpath.
“They’re probably going to cause a lot of noise about a vaccination anyway – you could argue we should bypass them. But there is a problem with requiring people to be vaccinated – it’s much more intrusive than requiring people to have a mask.”
Saying “leadership around vaccination” would be important, Staines said “airlines in particular won’t carry you unless you’re vaccinated”, but that it would be “oppressive” to mandate a vaccine in order to use public spaces”.
“The practice of enforcing [a mandatory rule] would be extremely difficult – and it really would involve a big change in the way the guards operate in Ireland at the moment.”
Éilis Ryan is the Workers’ Party only elected official in the Republic of Ireland, missing out in her bid for election to the European Parliament and Dáil Éireann in the last elections.