Finance Minister against making antigen tests free in all circumstances
"I'm not sure there's a rationale for making them free in all circumstances."
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said he would not support making antigen tests free in all circumstances to the public.
The Minister appeared on Newstalk's The Hard Shoulder, where he was quizzed regarding the Government's plan to subside antigen tests.
With an antigen test currently costing around €7, Donohoe was asked what he believed was a reasonable figure for people to pay.
"If I was to fully answer that question, that would then preempt what the Government decision is going to be," the Minister replied.
"What I want to see and what we're trying to work on is [that] for those for whom cost might be a very high barrier to making regular use of antigen testing, we're trying to see is there a way we can help with that cost.
"In the next few days, the Government will make a decision on that."
Asked whether there was an argument to making the tests free to the public, the Minister said he would not be in favour of such a move.
"I, at this point, wouldn't support making them free," he explained.
"What is the case at the moment is the HSE make them free anyway to those who need them on medical grounds. Many employers make the decision to make them available free.
"They're free already through the HSE for those who do need them. They will be made available free, for example, by the HSE for particular cases that could happen in a school.
"I'm not sure there's a rationale for making them free in all circumstances though... There is ultimately a cost involved in doing this.
"The Government doesn't have any money of its own. The only money a government has is the money that we either collect in taxes, which is the money of your listeners, or money that we borrow, which your listeners will be paying for tomorrow.
"There are many people at the moment who are in a position to buy an antigen test.
"I'm not sure there's a case why we should use their money to make it free to them if they're already being purchased in large numbers."
When deciding on the subsidy for antigen tests, Donohoe said the Government will be weighing up the costs of the scheme against the benefit of making the tests available.
He also said the Government would need to make sure it has enough supplies of the tests to meet the potential demand.
Donohoe's comments come after it was announced on Thursday that antigen tests will be made available to Oireachtas staff free of charge.
A spokesperson for the Oireachtas later clarified that the tests will not be free to TDs and senators.
Main image via Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie