The Rural Independent Group has slammed the government’s “intrusive” plans to introduce a vaccine passport to allow individuals to enter indoor hospitality.
According to the group, this proposal, if implemented, constitutes one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made by any Irish government.
The group believes it will create unviable and unworkable segregation as unvaccinated people will be “forced” to remain outdoors.
The TDs stressed it is an unconstitutional restriction of a person’s right to bodily integrity and personal freedom under the constitution.
The move, they warned, would place an “unrealistic burden” on restaurants and hospitality and could create a “great deal of friction”.
The leader of the Rural Independents, deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated:
“The government plans to introduce a vaccine passport to allow individuals to enter indoor hospitality makes no logical sense, in terms of protecting others.”
“It not only is an infringement of human rights, but it would also pigeonhole a selective group of individuals and grant those people greater freedoms and liberties than unvaccinated ones.”
“If the vaccines are highly effective in preventing significant disease, as seems to be the evidence from trial results to date, then those who have been vaccinated have already received protection; there is no benefit to them or other people being vaccinated.”
“Furthermore, since vaccines do not prevent infection per se, a vaccinated person could theoretically carry and pass on the virus. To decide someone’s ‘safe non-spreader’ status, on the basis of proof of their immunity, is spurious.”
He said this “drastic” plan risks creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people, who medically cannot receive, who decline or have not yet been vaccinated, are excluded from significant areas of public life.
“In effect, the vaccine passport plan is like barring people from their everyday lives and from social activity and will lead to social division and social apartheid and could destroy any sense of community that has been so positive in the pandemic,”
Additionally, he said there is a legitimate fear that such a proposal would become permanent and be expanded to encompass other forms of medical treatment and access to additional facilities.
Could create a surveillance state
He warned the scheme has the potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it. He stated it could create a surveillance state, in which the government uses technology to control certain aspects of citizens’ lives.
“Many pubs and restaurant owners and their staff are extremely anxious about the workability and feasibility of such a system that prioritises fully vaccinated persons.”
“The introduction of such a system would be a blatant attack on the civil liberties of all Irish citizens, by discriminating in access to goods, services and potentially employment.”
Concluding, deputy McGrath called for a full debate on this issue in Dáil Éireann before summer recess.