Alan Kelly slams vaccination passport plans for indoor dining as "absolutely bananas" and "discriminatory"
"We're essentially saying to the young people of Ireland, your summer will consist of sitting at home and watching Love Island."
Labour leader Alan Kelly has slammed the government's plans to consider implementing vaccination passports for indoor dining as "absolutely bananas" and "discriminatory".
He was speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil following the government's announcement on Tuesday that indoor dining will be delayed.
It was confirmed that indoor activities - such as organised events, the return of service in bars and restaurants, training, group exercise, dance - will not proceed as planned, pending the implementation of a system to verify vaccination or immunity.
Addressing Minister Eamon Ryan, Kelly stated the plans discriminated against younger people who have not yet received a vaccine under the government's vaccine rollout strategy.
"What you've announced earlier as a decision from Cabinet in relation to reopening is absolutely bananas. It's discriminatory. It's unenforceable. It's actually shocking stuff - amateur hour," said Kelly.
"When did Government discrimination become the norm in Ireland?
"What you're saying to young people today is 'we're all in this together, except when it gets to a stage where those of us who are being vaccinated want to get out and enjoy ourselves this summer... Oh and by the way, we also want you to continue working to serve us in the bars and restaurants and pubs and everywhere else because we need you to do so, even though you're not vaccinated.'"
Kelly added: "Your plans will break social cohesion. They'll divide the people of this country... You're saying to young people it's illegal for you to go down the road for a pint if you're not vaccinated... But it's not illegal because of European law to go up to Northern Ireland or get on a flight to Spain and go in for as many meals or as many drinks as you want.
"You're saying to the young people of Ireland... 'We are going to go out and enjoy ourselves if we are vaccinated but we're not allowing you to. We're essentially saying to the young people of Ireland, your summer will consist of sitting at home and watching Love Island."
Kelly said he believed the government would have to rescind the plans because they are not "practical".
In response, Ryan said: "Let's be very clear here. Let's not preempt the approach that's going to be taken.
"What government is not doing is responding to that modelling information that was presented last night and immediately jumping to a particular solution.
"We're saying we want to sit down with our stakeholders, with the unions, with the industry and to look at options in which we can provide better protection but also reopen the hospitality sector and other sectors which may be affected."
On the topic of young people, Ryan also referenced the news that AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines will be allowed to be used on all adults over 18.
He said: "The decisions yesterday in terms of changing the vaccination rules was also an important element in the mix. It was not all negative in terms of what was presented."
"There is no discrimination in the intent behind the government," Ryan added.