Colum Eastwood advises ‘dangerous anti-vaxxers’ to protest during office hours

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has criticised what he described as “dangerous anti-vaxxers” for protesting outside his office.

he Foyle MP advised those who attended to come back on Monday when the office reopens.

In a tweet, Mr Eastwood said: “To the anti-vaxxers protesting outside my office and shouting ‘come out’, we’re not in on a Saturday.

“If you want to contact us during office hours, I’ll be able to meet you and explain how wrong and dangerous you are.”

In recent weeks the SDLP leader has been targeted by Covid-19 sceptics and those opposed to vaccines.

An image was circulated on social media of Mr Eastwood with a superimposed Hitler moustache after he voiced his support for Covid-19 passports. He received further criticism under his tweet for that stance.

At the beginning of this week Mr Eastwood slammed the DUP and Sinn Fein after they opposed a proposal to make proof of vaccination one requirement of entry to indoor seated venues in Northern Ireland.

It came as ministers agreed a plan to drop the one metre social distancing requirement across a range of venues, but decided that vaccination passports to enter indoor seated venues would be advisory only.

Mr Eastwood said the decision was “irresponsible” amid warnings of extreme pressure on the health service during winter.

Health Minister Swann has also said it was “regrettable” that the Executive has yet to agree a policy position on the issue.

Mr Swann said he wrote to Executive Ministers as far back as April 22 asking for the matter to be taken forward by The Executive Office through the creation of a cross-departmental working group.

He added: “We have waited for the Covid Task Force to pick up the ball and run with this. It is central to the Task Force’s entire purpose – charting a pathway out of restrictions.

“If we can get a domestic scheme agreed – with the necessary regulations and technology in place – it gives us both options and opportunities, new tools to use if required.

“It also means our citizens won’t be disadvantaged when they travel to jurisdictions where certification is mandatory – to be going for a drink in Donegal or a football match in Scotland.

“There will still be decisions to make on if or when or where vaccine certification would be mandatory in Northern Ireland.

“We could decide to bring it in straight away for certain sectors. Or we could keep it as an option to deploy if the Covid situation worsens again, or if there is non-compliance in key areas.”

Minister Swann also said preparations should be made as “the time for foot dragging is long past”.

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