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Vaccination rollout finally hitting its stride

Inside Politics: 400,000 jabs per week are expected to happen in June

The Covid-19 vaccination rollout appears to be finally hitting its stride after a slow start, supply issues and changes in the advice on who should get which jab.

As Pat Leahy and Naomi O'Leary report today, 300,000 shots were administered last week, a similar number are to be given next week, and 400,000 jabs per week are expected to happen in June.

Friday is still D-day for the announcement of the next major reopening of society.

After a Cabinet meeting expect Taoiseach Micheál Martin to outline plans for indoor socialising in pubs and restaurants, how international travel will resume and the first tentative return of sports and entertainment.


Concerns remain that deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not land until late June, meaning it will be difficult to meet that target of 80 per cent of adults getting a first dose by the end of that month.

However, vaccinations are continuing apace, and as more people are inoculated, something resembling normal life will start to return, with illness and death rates falling and people returning to work.

But the Government is facing another conundrum that is essentially how to pay for the massive increase in State spending during the pandemic, and how to phase out the various emergency financial supports put in place for workers and businesses.

The Government’s National Recovery Plan is imminent – expected to be announced as early as next week.

It is to include plans for extending measures such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) beyond the end of June.

However, it is also expected to outline how supports such as the PUP will be reduced over time.

All of this will prove contentious – as will paying for the huge State spending that has occurred.

Now the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (Ifac) has warned the Government that its budgetary forecasts "lack credibility" and are inconsistent with future spending commitments.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy also reports how Ifac said the Government was “painting too rosy a picture” of future tax revenue and underestimating the likely decline in corporation tax receipts arising from proposed changes to the global tax system.

You wouldn’t fancy being either Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe nor Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath as they crunch the numbers for the forthcoming recovery plan – and ultimately the October budget.

Dublin shooting shows dangers gardaí face

Late last night Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys issued a statement in the wake of a tense standoff between an armed man and gardaí that saw two detectives sustain gunshot wounds.

The incident did not result in fatalities, and Ms Humphreys expressed relief that it was resolved following negotiation.

She said: “Shocking incidents such as this remind us of the dangers the men and women of An Garda Síochána face every day.

“We can never take for granted their bravery and the dedicated service they provide to our communities.”

Indeed the incident took place just days after the annual Garda Memorial Day ceremony to honour the 89 members who have died in the line of duty.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris commended the bravery of the two detectives who were first on the scene in Clonsilla, Dublin, on Tuesday, and he wished them a speedy recovery. He said: “This was another in a long line of examples of gardaí putting themselves on the line to keep people safe.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was “shocked and deeply concerned” to learn that two gardaí were injured. “This incident in Dublin shows yet again the danger An Garda Síochána often face in their efforts to protect and serve the people. We should always be very grateful for all the work they do on a daily basis on our behalf,” he said.

Conor Gallagher and Conor Lally report that the two gardaí suffered the gunshot wounds when they were fired on with an automatic weapon.

The siege in west Dublin ended after an armed standoff that lasted several hours.

The suspect surrendered some time after 9pm following protracted conversations with a negotiator and was taken to Blanchardstown Garda station.

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Dáil proceedings start with Topical Issues followed by a motion from the Rural Independents on the setting up of an Independent beef regulator.

Leaders’ Questions is at noon, and Government business includes debates on legislation for extending Covid-19 emergency measures and the Public Service Pay Bill 2020.

Dáil votes are to take place from 9,30pm.

In committee land, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys takes questions on revised estimates for her department, but it will also be an opportunity for TDs to quiz her on the future of the PUP.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is at the Committee on European Union Affairs to talk about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada that some in the Green Party are not too keen on.

The Committee on Transport and Communications will be updated on the cyberattack on the HSE by junior minister Ossian Smyth from 12.30pm before switching topic to Shannon Airport and the decision by Aer Lingus to close its crew base there.