Northern Ireland news

Robin Swann calls for united messaging as DUP fails to block Covid passports

Robin Swann said Covid passports were being introduced for people's overall protection. Picture by Hugh Russell

ROBIN Swann has urged the executive to unite around Stormont's public health message after the DUP failed in its bid to block mandatory Covid passports.

The assembly yesterday voted by 59 votes to 24 to support Covid certification for hospitality venues and large-attendance events.

A bloc of 21 DUP MLAs, alongside TUV leader Jim Allister, Jim Wells and independent unionist Alex Easton opposed the measures.

The party's ministerial team, including First Minister Paul Givan and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, did not vote.

Those supporting the measures, which became mandatory last week, were drawn from Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and the Greens.

People Before Profit's sole MLA Gerry Carroll abstained from the vote, which followed a marathon debate over two days.

Mr Carroll described the executive policy as "haphazard" and "straight out of the Tory playbook".

"Putting the focus on vaccine uptake alone, while abandoning the principles of social distancing, mask wearing, ventilation, tracking and tracing, will only shift the responsibility for Covid spread from the executive to ordinary people," he said.

Mr Swann said the steps were being taken "for the overall protection of the people of Northern Ireland and the support of our health service in challenging times".

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Northern Ireland news