Senator Alice-Mary Higgins welcomes “powerful and positive” US decision to support a TRIPS waiver on Covid 19 vaccines at WTO negotiations.

Alice Mary Higgins Newsletter 2020
Alice Mary Higgins Newsletter 2020

“EU Commission will have no excuse and no cover if they continue to block urgent global scale-up in vaccine production”

A temporary suspension of Intellectual property rights to allow increased global production of vaccines has been proposed by over 60 countries at the WTO but had until now been blocked by a small group of wealthier countries including the US and EU.

Tonight the U.S Trade Representative Katherine Tai acknowledged that “the extraordinary of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures” and confirmed the United States would be supporting a TRIPS waiver.

Senator Higgins, who has been a passionate advocate for the TRIPS waiver over recent months has said that “Europe must now drop it’s opposition to the waiver.

“The European Commission will have no excuse and no cover if they continue to block the urgent global scale up in vaccine manufacture and access. For Europe sustain opposition to a TRIPS waiver in the face of a mounting global death toll and the wave if new variants would be morally unconscionable and incredibly foolish – the only way to truly tackle this global pandemic is through collective action. When a huge portion of the world’s population remain vulnerable to COVID-19, those are ideal grounds for the virus to develop new variants and it is a matter of time before those variants become vaccine resistant,”

“This is an issue of justice and of safety. The European Commission must show that they are serious about ending this pandemic and protecting global public health by supporting the TRIPS waiver.”

Yesterday, Senator Higgins participated in a high-level dialogue between parliamentarians from across the world, including the United States and EU, South Africa and India who are working together to support a TRIPS waiver.

Senator Higgins was also one of 400 European parliamentarians to sign an open letter urging governments to support a TRIPS waiver,

“When I raised this issue in the Seanad with Minister of State for Trade Promotion Robert Troy, I emphasised the massive public investment which had supported vaccine development, those vaccines must be treated as a public good”

Concluding Senator Higgins noted “This is a defining moral and political moment,  The Irish Government need to stop wavering on this and prove that we value global public health ahead of profit by clearly and publicly calling on the EU Commission to do the right thing and support a TRIPS waiver.”

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Senator Higgins calls for the 26th Seanad to convene

Senator Higgins, Senator Lynn Ruane and Senator Frances Black wrote to the Taoiseach to affirm their position that the Seanad should be allowed to sit. They agreed with the analysis of the Constitution put forward by Senators Bacik, McDowell and others and believe that the 26th Seanad can indeed convene prior to the appointment of the Taoiseach’s eleven nominees and that the 49 members who have been elected should be allowed to express their mandate.

 Moreover, they noted that the Dáil has been meeting for a number of weeks now to engage with non-legislative parliamentary work including scrutiny and oversight of public policy and that the Seanad should also have the opportunity to engage in such scrutiny. 

They believe that as an absolute minimum, a date must be set for a sitting of the Seanad for the purpose of selecting a Cathoirleach and re-establishing a committee to order the business of the house.