Martin says Ireland will begin operating European digital pass by July 19th

‘There are clearly challenges, but . . . progress has been made,’ says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was speaking jointly with Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris at the launch of a €40m fund for cross-Border research projects. Photograph: Julien Behal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was speaking jointly with Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris at the launch of a €40m fund for cross-Border research projects. Photograph: Julien Behal

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has reiterated the Government’s commitment to begin operating the European digital pass by July 19th, despite doubts expressed privately by some senior officials and Ministers.

“We going to do that, that was the conscious Government decision some time back,” said Mr Martin this afternoon.

“We will commence with this on 19th of July, and significant progress has been made in that regard. There are clearly challenges, but . . . progress has been made . . . we’re on track.”

The European Union digital coronavirus certificate regulation entered into application on July 1st, 2021. EU citizens and residents will now be able to have their digital Covid-19 certs issued and verified across the bloc. A cert is proof that a person has either been vaccinated, received a negative test result or recovered from coronavirus.

Mr Martin was speaking jointly with Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris at the launch of a €40 million fund for cross-Border research projects, provided by the €500 million Shared Island initiative.

Mr Martin said officials are working out details of the vaccines purchase from Romania and that the Coalition had also been in touch with other European governments.

He also praised the vaccine rollout, saying 343,000 vaccines had been administered last week and a similar amount would be done next week.

“It really is picking up pace. I think we’ll be close to 50 per cent fully vaccinated by tomorrow, so we are making a lot of progress,” said Mr Martin.

Delta variant worries

However, he struck a cautious note about the impact of the Delta variant. “That said, we are very worried about Delta and numbers are increasing and the numbers reporting for testing is significantly up on this time last week. So we are getting very clear indications that Delta is beginning to have its impact both on the number of cases and on the number of people coming forward for scheduled appointments for testing,” he said.

“We do need to be careful about this and sensible about it . . . We want to avoid any significant increase in cases in hospitals because that affects normal non-Covid issues.”

He said it was a “fast moving situation” with the Delta variant, citing Germany’s restrictions on travel to Portugal introduced last week. “We just have to say to people be careful and be vigilant.”

Mr Martin said he would not engage in negotiations with the hospitality industry “by megaphone”. He said officials and the industry need to be given space to work out a plan for safe reopening of the sector, rather than engaging in negotiation by press release. “I’m conscious that there’s been three different demands in the last 48 hours of what should and happen and shouldn’t happen.”

He said that the Government had decided previously that it would not use vaccine certificates for access to “domestic activities, domestic services”.

He added: “Now we have received Nphet advice in respect of indoor dining specifically . . . so at this stage we’re taking it one step at a time.”

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