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Cop on Garda representative says officers feel 'abandoned' by new Covid vaccine rollout plan

We’ve been out there since last February and March putting ourselves in danger and we didn’t question it."

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A Garda Covid 19 checkpoint at Blackchurch on the N7 outbound from Dublin. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

A Garda Covid 19 checkpoint at Blackchurch on the N7 outbound from Dublin. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

A Garda Covid 19 checkpoint at Blackchurch on the N7 outbound from Dublin. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

The Vice-President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said that gardaí feel “abandoned” by the Government’s new vaccine rollout plan.

Ireland’s National Vaccination Programme is to take a new approach and to change to an age-based system once over 70s, vulnerable people, and those with underlying conditions are vaccinated.

Following expert advice given to the Government, the new arrangement aims to simplify vaccination rollout once the Johnson & Johnson doses arrive later this month.

The changes have been harshly criticised by gardaí, who were expecting vaccinations to be administered on an occupational basis, as per the original plan.

Speaking on Newstalk, Vice-President of the GRA Brendan O’Connor said that the new system is “illogical” and shared that gardaí are angered by the change in the vaccination system.

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A Garda checkpoint on Arran Quay, Dublin. Photo by: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

A Garda checkpoint on Arran Quay, Dublin. Photo by: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

A Garda checkpoint on Arran Quay, Dublin. Photo by: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

He said: “Our members are dealing with ever-present danger and there’s a level of anxiety and fear and perhaps trepidation... We have very little control over our level of exposure. Our members put on their uniforms and go out every day and just don’t know what they have to face.

“We’ve been out there since last February and March putting ourselves in danger and we didn’t question it. We were told that our contribution was valued. Now overnight, we are the only emergency service, the only blue light service, that has been left unvaccinated.”

The Donegal-based officer added that the decision to uphaul the vaccination process is “not fair” and is “illogical.”

“Our message to the Government is very clear. We just feel abandoned, we feel taken for granted,” he continued.

However, former Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy disagreed, believing that the new age-based initiative is “the fairest system” and will “probably have the best outcome” as a result.

He told Newstalk listeners: “I think this is probably a very difficult decision for the Government to make and I think they’re following the science in relation to this. It’s a very difficult one. Of course, the guards are out there on the frontline, very much frontline in fact, and they’re exposed every day.

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“I do think that the way they’re going to approach it from now on is probably the fairest system and will probably have the best outcome.

“I think people need to take a deep breath and we need to move forward collectively. We need a bit of solidarity now nationwide in relation to this. The more that we can get vaccinated in the shortest time provides the best protection for us,” he added.

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