A LIMERICK TD is "greatly taken aback" that Ireland hasn't broached the subject of the Sputnik vaccine with Russia.
Deputy Richard O'Donoghue contacted the Russian Embassy in Dublin to see if Ireland had made approaches like he says other EU countries - Poland, Slovakia and Hungary - have.
"We can not sit idly by on this one. It's too important an issue. It's yesterday we should have been having discussions with Russia on the Sputnik-V vaccine, not tomorrow. This Government should wake up, get our people vaccinated by whatever means," said Deputy O'Donoghue.
In written correspondence, the Russian Embassy informed the Banogue man that, "As of now, we have not been approached by the Irish authorities on the issue of the 'Sputnik V' vaccine".
It continues: "The European Medical Agency is currently reviewing the request for registration from the Russian producer of the vaccine. As soon as the vaccine is approved by EMA and in case of interest of the Irish authorities in getting supply of the vaccine, it is quite certain that such request will be dealt seriously and positively."
The response to Deputy O'Donoghue concludes with, "Russia believes it is important that as many countries have as many vaccines could be produced – that is the only practical way to suppress coronavirus. We are not in a 'race of the vaccines', we are working for the benefit of all".
The Independent TD also believes that Taoiseach Micheál Martin should directly ask US President Joe Biden for any of its surplus Covid-19 vaccines. The pair are due to hold a virtual meeting on St Patrick’s Day.
Deputy O’Donoghue raised the issue in the Dáil.
"Word from America, and that is from reading USA Today, is that it will be soon swimming in Covid-19 vaccines. And if they are, we should be speaking with them on the matter as a matter of urgency. Our leader has an opportunity to engage face-to-face with President Biden and should use it to ask directly is he prepared to help Ireland in our greatest hour of need.”
He added: "President Biden is after all a son of our land, and I’m certain, most certain that if he was asked directly he would answer in a positive fashion. It’s not everyone, or every day that someone can have such a conversation with the US President. He appears a sound person, and he never lets it be forgotten that his roots are Irish.”
Deputy O'Donoghue said the EU common pool for Covid-19 vaccines is "grand but we must look elsewhere too".
"President Biden is a friend of Ireland, and friends help one another out. I’m sure President Biden, if he is in a position, will help out his ancestral homeland. His people, the Finnegans and Blewitts, are what made the 46th President of the United States."