Northern Ireland news

Former DUP minister opposed to vaccine passports attended NI match where proof required

DUP MLA for North Antrim Paul Frew. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Seanín Graham

A FORMER DUP minister opposed to Covid vaccine passports who said he would "never" hold one attended a football match requiring fans to show they were jabbed or tested negative.

Paul Frew, an MLA for North Antrim, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the mandatory scheme and reacted angrily after the measure was backed by the executive on Wednesday, branding it "discriminatory".

"I can tell you this, I will never have a domestic Covid vaccine certificate in my hand," he said.

However, it has emerged that Mr Frew went to the Northern Ireland game against Lithuania last Friday evening, which operated strict admissions rules identical to those proposed by Health Minister Robin Swann for the passports, which will be legally enforced on December 13.

The DUP was the only one of the five main political parties to vote against the proposal.

Mr Frew said after it was carried: "I will fight against any discrimination against people due to medical history and status. When they are excluded I will be with them."

Five days earlier, Mr Frew posted a picture from Windsor Stadium in Belfast showing the team warming up ahead of the World Cup Qualifier match.

MLA Paul Frew posted a picture from the Northern Ireland game against Lithuania where proof of vaccine status was required

The Irish Football Association (IFA) entry requirements on the door included proof of full vaccination - showing your vaccine card along with photographic ID.

Alternatively you could also show documentation proving a negative lateral flow test taken in the previous 48 hours or proof of immunity after testing positive for Covid in the past six months.

The same measures form part of the Stormont vaccine passport scheme, which will be required for people wanting to gain entry to nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, conference halls and other large indoor/outdoor events.

On the BBC's The View on Thursday evening, DUP party colleague Christopher Stalford was challenged about the "inconsistency" of Mr Frew's stance.

Mr Stalford said: "Frankly, that's a matter for Paul".

The DUP also said it was "a matter for Paul" as it was "his personal view".

Mr Frew was contacted for comment.

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