Failure to extend EU Covid cert to Irish passport holders in north criticised
FAILURE to include Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland in the EU digital Covid certificate scheme has been branded "unacceptable" by a Sinn Féin TD.
The vaccine 'passport' or 'green certificate' was rolled out to more than two million fully vaccinated people in the Republic last week, and could be used today as international travel restrictions eased.
Taoiseach Mícheál Martin and other senior Irish government ministers had indicated there would be mutual recognition for Irish passport holdholders north of the border
However, it was reported by BBC at the weekend that the certificate will not be extended to citizens in Northern Ireland because they were vaccinated outside of the Republic and there is no state record of their jab.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said the matter would be "kept under consideration".
But Donegal Sinn Féin TD, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, accused the Dublin government of reneging on its commitment and said they would raise the issue at the next North-South Ministerial Council.
"The government said that they would ensure people vaccinated in the north would be included and just last month Minister Eamon Ryan insisted that this would definitely be the case. Yet, it has now emerged that they will not as the government has not implemented a way of processing vaccinations which took place in the north," he said.
"This impacts on many people living in the south as well, including healthcare workers who would have been vaccinated via the NHS.
"This failure is just one of many unacceptable and repeated failures by this government to uphold the rights of citizens in the north.
"Irish citizens in the north were given the clear commitment that after Brexit they would be afforded the benefits which came with EU membership when it comes to freedom of movement. Inclusion in the EU Digital Certificate plans should be part of these rights. Irish citizens in the north must not see their rights further undermined due to Brexit."
The EU digital pass can be scanned at an airport and indicates if a traveller has either been vaccinated, produced a negative Covid test or has recovered from the virus in the past six months.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health is currently rolling out its digital passport scheme for applications.
An app is due to go live next week.
A department spokeswoman said: "We are providing certification in line with EU / WHO specification. There is an expectation that the Republic of Ireland will be able to recognise certification issued to NI citizens."