Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ One.
Joe O’Shea: “We have to start compelling people because a lot of them seem to think that ‘because it’s not affecting me directly, maybe I’m young, maybe I’m healthy, or maybe I believe some post I’ve seen on Facebook saying Bill Gates wants me to get vaccinated because he wants to turn me into a robot’, that we have to start making their lives complicated as well.”
Claire Byrne: “You sound really angry with people who’ve decided not to get vaccinated – for whatever reason that may be, that they made that decision?”
O’Shea: “Yeah, I am angry, and I think people are angry because we want to get out of this. We want our lives back, we want to get back to normality, we want to work again, we want to see people again, we want to have a Christmas that we’re not talking about vaccination rates or infection rates, but we’re actually talking about our Christmas plans and meeting our loved ones. We want our families to be protected, we want our communities to be protected. And that’s why there are no, no scientific arguments to be made for not getting vaccinated. I’m not a virologist but the anti-vaxxers are not virologists either.
“There’s no debate because you can’t debate somebody who believes in a religious belief almost, a cult like thing of, you know, ‘well, I’m not going to get vaccinated, I’m not going to listen to my doctor, I’m not going to listen to the overwhelming evidence and opinion of the world’s leading scientists’.
“You can’t debate with them. At this stage, we’re talking about almost hardcore cranks who are just not prepared to…”
Byrne: “Yeah, but Joe you’re talking then about forcing people to take a vaccine, if they have decided, as they have a right to decide, they’ve a right to decide ‘look, I don’t want to take…’ for whatever reason.”
O’Shea: “Good…yeah, they have a right to decide and if they want to lock themselves out of society, because they will not live up to the responsibilities that they should be facing, then yeah, they have a right to decide that. You can’t force people, nobody is talking about forcing people to take vaccines, marching them down to health centres. But you can compel people, or you can let them know that if that is the decision you take, then unfortunately we cannot have you in our spaces, we cannot have you with the risk you pose to society, to our people, to our loved ones. It’s not forcing, but it’s definitely compelling.”
O’Shea: “…What we have seen in France, especially, is that workplace mandates have worked. In France, after Macron brought in these laws, and they were very, very strict and they were very, very resisted as well by the media, by the politicians and by the public, the rate of vaccination went up significantly. So, definitely try to persuade, definitely engage, there are people with real concerns, of course there are. But we also have to start being a bit more serious as well about who we allow to be in our spaces if we’re ever going to escape this pandemic. Fifty thousand new cases in the UK today, 50, 000 in one day. You know, we don’t want to mess around with this.”
Byrne: “What about mandatory vaccination, Joe?”
O’Shea: “No, I don’t think anybody is seriously suggesting that. I don’t think it would be possible and I don’t think it would be feasible, I don’t..you can’t force people…”
Byrne: “Yeah, but you say that but…can I just bring you the results of our poll on that because we asked 1,000 adults on our Amarach smartphone panel, the question: Are you in favour of mandatory vaccination against Covid-19? Have a look at this…
…46% of people say yes, 42% say no, and 12% don’t know. So Joe it’s a sizeable figure. I mean 46% of the 1,000 people say ‘yeah, mandatory’.”
O’Shea: “I’m absolutely shocked with that figure to be honest with you because I can’t see how that would be possible, I don’t think that’s a road we want to go down, I don’t think there’s any country in the world that’s thinking of going down that road.”
Byrne: “I thought you’d be in favour of it, given what you said earlier on?”
O’Shea: “No, no, I’m in favour…if people want to decide, then they decide to lock themselves out effectively of public life, that’s what they’re deciding to do. I don’t think you can forcefully vaccinate people. And of course we’re talking about people who have already taken 10 or 11, 12 vaccinations in their life to date and didn’t have to do all the research on that. And if they cut their hand open on a rusty nail tomorrow and were offered a tetanus shot, they wouldn’t be asking to do the research on that either. You can persuade some people but there will be a hardcore people who, for their own wilful ignorance, will not be persuaded so what we can do now, what is happening, what we’re seeing around the world is effectively, OK, but you cannot be in our public spaces, you cannot be in our lives.”
Watch back here.