Two Fine Gael TDs tell party they will not vote for vaccine pass or lockdown in Dáil

Michael Ring criticises Government over plan to reopen tourism despite dining limits

Two Fine Gael TDs have said they will not support the measure to introduce a "vaccine pass" or further lockdown measures if there is a vote called on it in the Dáil.

The measures announced by the Government on Tuesday were harshly criticised by several TDs during a heated meeting of the parliamentary party on Wednesday evening.

Mayo TD Michael Ring said he would not vote for the measure.

“We will let thousands of people into the country but we ourselves can’t have a meal,” he said.


The Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan also said he would not vote for any measure.

He said the announcement and subsequent media interviews were “car-crash stuff”. He said he felt embarrassed by the Government decision on Tuesday and would not be voting for it.

Those attending the meeting said the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had said that close study would continue of hospitalisations and deaths in the UK but indicated it was an ongoing process.

Mr Varadkar told the meeting that more would be known over the next two to three weeks about the UK situation and the connection between cases and hospitalisations.

He said if that link has been broken, and if hospitalisations don’t increase at the same rate as other waves then it might be possible to reopen indoor hospitality in a few weeks.

Several TDs and Senators – including Martin Conway and Paul Kehoe – defended the Government decision to defer reopenings because of the Delta virus.

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin had argued for the reopenings to go ahead as scheduled, and opposed a pause. He said he had spoken about a vaccine pass many months ago but he was made to feel silly at the time.

He said the Fine Gael backbenchers were the only group who were not in a position to engage with the National Public Health Emergency Team and asked for a meeting to be held.

Colleagues also said that he was critical of Mr Ring and Mr Phelan, saying Fine Gael TDs should not be saying they will vote against their own Government.

Many contributors said the communications around the decision was very poor but said the measures taken were inevitable given the data, while very unpalatable.

Mr Varadkar told his party colleagues that a decision to pause the reopening for three weeks will be reassessed before July 19th.

In the interim period, he said three aspects would be examined: driving the vaccine programme; watching the Delta variant in the UK; and developing a Corona pass.

He said the Delta variant has been the main variant in the UK for the last five weeks.

“It is coming here and people are in denial if they think it isn’t,” he said.

The meeting heard the next two weeks will tell a lot about the Delta wave and if it is more or less severe than previous waves.

Mr Varadkar insisted no Government would have made a decision not to pause reopening with some of the scenarios presented to them this week.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times