Micheál Martin says international travel could be possible by "latter part of summer"
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that international travel could be a possibility by the "latter part of the summer" as he confirmed that Ireland will join the EU's digital green certificate system.
Speaking at a press conference in Cork on Sunday, Martin said that "possibilities" may open for people to travel between EU member states, once the green cert rollout begins.
"Europe is pressing ahead with it in terms of the technology side of it," he said.
"There will be more work to be done in terms of the application of these passports, but we want a European-wide, interoperable portal where people can register the fact that they have been vaccinated, that they had a negative PCR test or they have recovered from Covid. So, I think, that is the next stage.
"That is something Ireland is going to participate in - we are going to participate in that European-wide framework. We will work through this."
The Taoiseach also confirmed that Ireland could see the reopening of international travel by the end of summer, however, he said it will be dependent on the success of the vaccination programme and case numbers.
"Certainly, by the latter part of the summer, possibilities may open up, but we have got to track the virus, keep on top of it and keep the pressure on it," he added.
"This has been a balancing act so far. Let's not forget we are still at 400+ cases a day and that is something we will always keep an eye on."
It comes as Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said that Digital Green Certificates could be implemented in Ireland as early as the end of June or at the "very latest" mid-August.
Asked on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon when Ireland can expect Digital Green Certificates to be in place for the public, Byrne responded: "I don't have direct control over that because what's happening at the moment is that the European Parliament and the member states are negotiating, so whenever that finishes.
"I think there's a European Parliament plenary session towards the end of June to finalise it and the member states do it the following day."
The European Commission has said the Digital Green Certificates, also known as EU Covid-19 certificates, will "reaffirm the right to free movement in Europe during the pandemic".
The document, which may be presented in a digital or paper format, will prove that a person travelling throughout the EU has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, has a recent negative test result, or has recently recovered from the virus.
Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of introducing the certificates, with negotiations now underway with EU member states on how to implement them.