O’Toole challenges Lyons over undermining public health message

matthew o'toole Covid-19 Pandemic Executive

SDLP South Belfast MLA Matthew O’Toole has today challenged DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons in the Assembly chamber for undermining the public health message.

Mr Lyons wrote to the Executive opposing Covid-19 vaccine certifications two days after the Omicron variant of the virus was discovered.

Mr O’Toole stressed the importance of unified messaging from the Executive on public health and asked whether Mr Lyons had authorised the leaking of his letter to the BBC ahead of vaccine certification coming into force.

He said:

“It’s extremely disappointing that DUP Minister Lyons decided to undermine the public health messaging at a key moment in our fight against Covid-19. While there will always be different views within our multi-party Executive we need to speak with one voice when it comes to protecting public health and keeping the public, businesses and our health service safe.

“I challenged the DUP Minister in the Assembly today and asked him whether or not he had authorised the leaking of his letter opposing vaccine certifications, just two days after the Omicron variant was first discovered and creating concern across the world. His answer was less than convincing.

“We are still in the midst of this pandemic and it’s time the DUP, its MLAs, ministers and MPs realised that. Vaccine certifications are a tool for preventing another lockdown – something we want to avoid at all costs, particularly in the run up to Christmas. Abandoning this policy at this stage of the pandemic would leave our public, businesses and health service all at significant risk. Nobody wants to be in this position but our job is to take responsibility and provide political leadership, something that’s been all too lacking from the DUP in recent weeks.”

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