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good news It may be possible to offer vaccine to everyone who wants one by end of June – Leo Varadkar

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar has said it may be possible that everyone who wants a vaccine could be offered one by the end of June.

Mr Varadkar told the Fine Gael parliamentary party that given evidence from other countries that between 10pc and 15pc of people decline the vaccine it was possible that everyone who wants a vaccine could be offered one by the end of June.

However, he added that it was too soon to promise that at this stage.

He said the epidemiological situation with Covid-19 was continuing to improve and said that the State could “easily” be administering 350,000 to 400,000 vaccines per week. The Tánaiste, who has been volunteering for shifts as a vaccinator in recent weeks, said he would be able to do twice as many patients if there was the available supply.

He said it was likely there would be indoor dining before the return of international travel, but suggested there could be a common travel area with the UK sooner.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar has urged his party to promote that family homelessness has dropped 40pc since the peak as he told colleagues not to blame Fianna Fáil for the housing crisis.

Mr Varadkar told his parliamentary party on Wednesday that he had only recently learned that family homelessness is down nearly 40pc since the peak.

He said it was a bad thing if he didn’t know this and that Fine Gael politicians should know it so they can say it in media interviews.

The Tánaiste told colleagues about a Waterford Whispers article he had seen last week, headlined ‘Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parliamentary parties have just discovered the housing crisis’, and said he doesn’t want this impression to be created among the public.

Mr Varadkar told his TDs and Senators that they needed to see the crisis as a “shared challenge” and move away from the narrative of Fine Gael blaming Fianna Fáil.

He said that €3.3bn-a-year budget for housing was the biggest ever and that 20,000 homes were built last year, of which 6,500 were direct builds by the State, local authorities, and approved housing bodies.

However, the Fine Gael leader admitted that the homeownership situation was getting worse and that this amounted to a “breach of the social contract” in that young people in their 20s and 30s believe they will never be able to buy their first home.

Mr Varadkar said there was a correlation between people who own their homes and voting for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and said it was not surprising that Fine Gael was not doing better than the 25pc support amongst younger people. He said the Government must turn this around in the coming years.

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The Tánaiste also addressed the IMF’s latest report on Ireland, saying he disagreed with the assessment that taxes needed to increase. He said he would not accept increases to income taxes in the coming years.

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