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UK residents must come first in Covid-19 vaccination programme, says Paisley


Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said that United Kingdom residents must come first when it comes to Covid-19 vaccinations.

Mr Paisley said that any Northern Ireland or UK politician "must put their own community first".

"That has got to happen," the North Antrim MP told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

Mr Paisley was discussing Northern Ireland being ahead of the Republic of Ireland in terms of vaccinations and the possibility of North- South cooperation on the issue.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

He blamed the EU for the slower rollout of the vaccination programme across its members states and also took aim at their attempt to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol during a row over vaccine distribution.

As of Wednesday Northern Ireland has administered 509,580 vaccines, of which 478,235 were first doses and 31,345 were second doses.

The UK Government has said it hopes to be able to offer a first dose to every adult by the end of July.

As of Sunday the Republic of Ireland had administered a total of 353,971 vaccines, of which 222,073 were first doses and 131,898 were second doses.

The Irish Government aims to have administered first doses to 40% of people over the age of 18 by the end of April, 64% by the end of May and up to 82% of adults by the end of June.

Mr Paisley said there was a need for politicians to "take responsibility for the people who elect us".

"We must put them first, I'm not trying to nationalise it, but I'm trying to be practical about how we can make it rollout," the North Antrim MP said.

"I have to have responsibility for the people to who I'm accountable to and who I speak for, they have to come first in my mind."

Mr Paisley said the blame for the Republic of Ireland being behind on their vaccine rollout lays squarely with the EU.

"The fact of the matter is in the biggest question that the world has faced in the past 35 years the European community failed," the DUP MP said.

Mr Paisley said the UK "took the right decision" in approving vaccines early, while "Europe is now playing catchup".

Mr Paisley said the EU's actions in discussing triggering Article 16 had hurt any notion of a common approach on vaccines.

"It's all well and good saying we want to have this lovely, beautiful common approach, but three weeks ago it was fairly clear where Europe's views were on this common approach," the North Antrim MP said.

"If they could have stuffed Northern Ireland's share of the vaccine they would have and indeed they almost got away with it."

However, he said he would be happy to share vaccines with the Republic of Ireland when the UK reaches a surplus.

"Of course then you would look immediately to share with your nearest neighbour, hopefully your good nearest neighbour," Mr Paisley said.

He said there was also an obligation for the UK to help poorer nations and those within the Commonwealth.

Belfast Telegraph

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