Politics

Ireland’s faith in Brussels shaken by ‘senseless’ vaccine row

EU vaccine campaign is a ‘disaster’ says Ernest Urtasun

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Ruth Dudley Edwards said the vaccine fiasco had damaged trust across the whole of Europe but said no member state was more exposed to fall-out of the disastrous roll-out than Ireland. She said the protectionist policies of Ireland’s early years of independence had led to economic stagnation, grinding poverty and mass emigration but a shift to free trade and foreign direct investment “transformed a basket case into the Celtic Tiger”.

It’s hard to see how it will not cause the Irish population to think more sceptically about blindly trusting the EU

Ruth Dudley Edwards

And she warned EU plans to commandeer factories and intellectual property rights and block exports would put off foreign investors across the EU but warned Ireland’s open economy would be left particularly vulnerable.

Writing in the Telegraph, she said: “EU and euro membership helped give Ireland the confidence to embrace secularism and social change at such a dizzying pace that it now unquestioningly swallows the progressive agenda.

“The EU rendered the country much less dependent on trade with the UK, easing the path to the peace settlement in 1998.”

Ms Dudley Edwards said Ireland’s allegiance to Brussels remained steadfast even when it was forced to hold second referendums in 2001 and 2008 on the Nice and Lisbon treaties followed by a brutal three-year austerity regime designed to save the German banks in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

But she predicted the shambles surrounding the EU’s vaccine strategy would test Irish patience with Brussels.

She said: “There was no questioning of the Commission’s instruction to accept what vaccines it decided to provide in whatever numbers it determined, but the vaccine crisis has been a shattering blow.

“And now, not only has Boris got something triumphantly right, but the European Commission has got not only the vaccine provision catastrophically wrong, but European leaders have undermined people’s faith in AstraZeneca, the most readily available vaccine.

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“There is nothing that Boris and Micheal Martin would like better than to provide more vaccines quickly to the Irish Republic.

“Since it is in the Common Travel Area, it would be in the British national interest to give vulnerable Irish citizens priority over very young British adults.

“But will the Commission help or hinder that?

“Until now, opposition to the EU in Ireland didn’t reach double figures.

“It’s hard to see how the present shambles will not cause the Irish population to think more sceptically about blindly trusting the EU.”

Ms Dudley Edwards’ comments came after the European Commission initially suggested vaccines produced in the EU could be restricted from export to the UK under a tougher regime to stem supplies to nations faring better in the pandemic.

Admitting it is a Covid-19 “hotspot”, Brussels bosses earlier said they may not approve exports to nations with more advanced vaccine rollouts or where there is a better “epidemiological situation”.

However EU bosses have since rolled rowed back for their initial threat with a source telling Express.co.uk: “We’re just starting to negotiate.”

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In a joint statement with Brussels, the Government said: “We are all facing the same pandemic and the third wave makes cooperation between the EU and UK even more important.

“We have been discussing what more we can do to ensure a reciprocally beneficial relationship between the UK and EU on Covid-19.”

“Given our interdependencies, we are working on specific steps we can take – in the short-, medium – and long term – to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens.”

“In the end, openness and global cooperation of all countries will be key to finally overcome this pandemic and ensure better preparation for meeting future challenges.”

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