Northern Ireland news

GAA pundit Joe Brolly 'acting as go-between' in bid for manufacture of new Covid-19 vaccine in Republic

Joe Brolly's role as `a conduit for a number of individuals with interests in the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland'

BARRISTER and GAA pundit Joe Brolly is reportedly acting as a go-between between the pharmaceutical industry and the Irish government for the manufacture of a new Covid-19 vaccine.

The Irish Independent said he has discussed a proposal with Taoiseach Micheál Martin last month, with senior executives in Ireland's inward promotion agency the IDA "called in to follow up".

It described Mr Brolly's role as "a conduit for a number of individuals with interests in the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland".

The proposal is for a existing pharmaceutical plant in the south of the country to manufacture vaccines in 2021 for an unnamed multinational "which has developed a jab".

The aim is for the Republic to have a secure supply of vaccines in the future, with claims it could produce "up to 20 million doses" of the unidentified vaccine at the plant which "would need to be upgraded".

The proposal is for a existing pharmaceutical plant in the south of the country to manufacture vaccines in 2021 for an unnamed multinational "which has developed a jab"

That process would delay production "until at least next year".

The paper reported an initial "lack of interest from vaccine developers in sub-contracting to other producers".

The Republic already has vaccine manufacturers Pfizer based in Cork, Dublin and Kildare; Johnson & Johnson in Cork, Limerick and Dublin and AstraZeneca in Dublin.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed the "virtual call with Joe Brolly on March 11" and said he has asked the IDA "to engage with the company to see if it could play any role in helping with vaccine supply".

Neither Mr Brolly nor the IDA has made a public comment.

Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke told the Seanad it "would create jobs and would come at no cost to the taxpayer" and urged Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to pursue the proposal.

He called on the government to ensure pharmaceutical firms based in the Republic with spare capacity due to lack of flu this year can produce Covid-19 vaccines.

The IDA reportedly asked a major multinational involved in vaccine production to use another Irish-based plant, but they "were not interested".

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