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Scramble to accelerate Covid vaccination ahead of Delta wave

Inside Politics: Taoiseach says everyone between 60 and 69 will get their second dose of Astra Zeneca within 10 days

Taoiseach: everyone between 60 and 69 will get their second dose of Astra Zeneca within 10 days

Good morning.

The Government continues to cautiously feel its way through the rumblings of an approaching Delta wave towards the next phase of reopening.

Officials are due to have further discussions with the representatives of the hospitality industry today in a bid to settle on a plan for reopening on the 19th of this month – a week and a half away – perhaps using the EU’s Covid pass as a proxy for entry ticket to pubs and restaurants. But that outcome is far from secure.

Our front page story this morning reports the scramble to accelerate the vaccination programme continues with the Taoiseach telling the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party that everyone between 60 and 69 will get their second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine within 10 days.


It comes as health authorities in Northern Ireland warned the North was in the “early stages of a significant further wave”. But just as in the rest of the UK, the rise in the number of cases in hospital and of deaths is expected to be only a fraction of previous waves. In the Republic the number of daily cases nudged up again, to 581 last night.

Ministers and senior officials are wrestling with the decisions about reopening while the fear of a fresh wave driven by the Delta variant grows.

Although the removal of travel restrictions and the rollout of the EU digital pass seem certain to go ahead, there is much less certainty about the reopening of indoor hospitality. More light is likely to be shed on that today.

Our lead story is here.

Other reports from the North are here and from Spain, where cases have surged, here.

All our Covid coverage is here.

Sinn Féin rounds on Government over stamp duty

Meanwhile, in the Dáil yesterday, Sinn Féin gave more notice – if any were needed – that it will make housing the centrepiece of its critique of and opposition to the Government when politics as normal resumes.

There was a furious row over a Government amendment to let institutional investors avoid the new 10 per cent stamp duty on multiple house purchases if they were leasing the houses to a local authority.

The Government argued that without the amendment, local authorities would immediately lose 2,400 houses for families in need of social housing. But it wasn’t clear where this magic number had come from.

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the Government was rewarding vulture funds for “snatching up family homes”; Mary Lou McDonald said it was “despicable” and “scandalous”.

The Government won the vote last night, but you’ll hear more on this today.

Our report is here, while Miriam Lord gives the Taoiseach's explanations a sceptical eye.

Dublin Bay South voters go to polls

Finally, after a long and extremely – perhaps disappointingly – civilised byelection campaign, the polls open this morning in Dublin Bay South.

There was a flash of excitement last night when a fake message, purporting to come from former Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell, advocating a vote for Ivana Bacik, did the rounds.

O’Connell immediately said it wasn’t from her and contacted the gardaí in Rathmines.

O’Connell fell out with the party leadership, didn’t get a nomination and pointedly hasn’t endorsed Fine Gael candidate James Geoghegan. Wonder if anyone actually believed it?

Polling is between 7am and 10.30pm, with the count, and the fun, beginning at 9am tomorrow in the RDS.

Final round-up of the campaign is here.

Best reads

Newton Emerson on how to dial down the rows on the protocol.

Bad news if you're a Leaving Cert student: points are going up.

Naomi O'Leary on the shooting of Dutch journalist Peter R de Vries.

Padraig O Morain wonders why we are so angry with the Government and Nphet.


It’s another long day in the Dáil chamber today from 9am to 10.15pm, with much of the time taken by oral questions to Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys and debate on five Government Bills, as the Coalition tries to clear the legislative decks before the summer recess.

There's also Leaders' Questions at noon, usually taken by Leo Varadkar on Thursdays. The full day's schedule is here.

There are eight committee meetings, including a hearing of the education committee, which will examine plans for reopening third-level colleges in the autumn. Full details of all the meetings are here.

Much attention will focus today on the contacts between the hospitality industry and Government officials as they seek to agree a plan for reopening, while the weekly HSE press conference will give us an update on the vaccination programme - but also on its expectations for the spread of the Delta variant.

Across the water, meanwhile, the build-up to Sunday’s final of Football’s Coming Home will begin in earnest. Lord have mercy on us all . . .