Ireland: Leo Varadkar announces national lockdown
Ray Bassett spoke out after Fine Gael - the party led by Mr Varadkar, currently Ireland’s Tanaiste or deputy Prime Minister - on Sunday posted a tweet bragging that Ireland had overtaken Britain in terms of the number of people fully vaccinated against the disease. The post said: “It's official: Ireland has OVERTAKEN the UK in fully vaccinating our adult population against #Covid19.”
Plenty of people were unimpressed, with Twitter users variously suggesting the message was “deeply inappropriate”, ‘very silly” and “in very poor taste”.
And Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, agreed, telling Express.co.uk: “The tweet just shows how defensive the Irish Government is over COVID vaccines.
“The figures for both the UK and Ireland on completely vaccinated percentages are almost identical, while the Republic lags somewhat behind on first doses.”
Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin were criticised by Ray Bassett
Fine Gael - led by Leo Varadkar - tweet this on Sunday
He added: “To claim that as something of a victory is a bit pathetic and an insult to those who got Covid because of the initial delays.
“It shows how desperate the pro-Brussels lobby in Ireland is to show the EU in a good light.”
Mr Bassett added: “With all the disaster ladened predictions for the UK after Brexit now proved completely wrong, there is increasing nervousness among some political figures in Dublin.
JUST IN: Putin’s watching - Ellwood tips Russia to wade into Belarus Olympic row
Leo Varadkar is currently Tanaiste, or deputy Prime Minister
“They fear that the success of Britain post Brexit is a direct threat to their position.”
He also pointed out Ireland’s initially sluggish vaccine rollout had improved significantly once the Irish Government had managed to secure its own supplies, separate from the EU - in much the same way the UK did.
He explained: “Ireland bought one million extra doses from Romania which has greatly improved supply.
'These are bribes!' GB News Harwood slams jab freebies for young adult [VIDEO]
Biggest Brexit losing EU countries exposed in new report [REPORT]
Serves EU right: Brits boycott bloc as figures show £28bn drop [REVEAL]
Micheal Martin was also criticised over his tweet
Ray Bassett, Ireland's former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas
“It showed that over-reliance on Brussels is damaging to the Irish State and when it acts independently, the results are much better.”
Also on Sunday, Micheal Martin, who succeeded Mr Varadkar as Taoiseach last year, waded into similar controversy with his own tweet on the subject.
The Fianna Fail leader crowed: "The vaccine rollout is continuing at great pace.
Covid vaccination rates compared
"Today we edged ahead of our nearest neighbours - a brilliant effort by everyone involved. Ireland: 72.4% of adults fully vaccinated UK: 72.1% of adults fully vaccinated."
One Twitter user replied: “Pitting us against our neighbours is in very taste & completely misses the point.”
Another added: “A distasteful tweet imo.
UK coronavirus map live
“An immature swipe at a country where many of us have great friends and also family living.”
More than 5.8 million jabs have been administered in Ireland to date.
It reflects a considerable turnaround for a country that experienced delays in the early stages of the vaccine programme associated with EU supply issues.
In the spring there was speculation the UK might even move to donate surplus vaccines to Ireland later in the year to help it address the shortfall in jabs.