SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and DUP MLA Paul Frew have clashed over Covid-19 measures introduced amid surging cases of the Omicron variant.
Mr Frew hit out at the Foyle MP’s support for vaccine passports after he called for government funding to help businesses “hammered” by the spread of Omicron.
Mr Eastwood hit back, branding the former Stormont Economy Minister a “disgrace”.
He argued that vaccine certification for entry into hospitality venues was “an attempt to keep them open”.
Vaccine passes were introduced in Northern Ireland on November 29 and became legally enforceable last week.
Under the scheme hospitality venues such as pubs and nightclubs are required to ask customers for proof of vaccination or a negative test result.
But the DUP opposed the move, with First Minister Paul Givan labelling the policy as “divisive” and saying it would have a “marginal” impact on reducing coronavirus transmission rates.
On Monday Mr Eastwood called for immediate action from the Prime Minister and chancellor to assist businesses struggling due to the impact of Omicron.
He tweeted: “There are lots of questions on Omicron that need bottomed out. Particularly, severity and impact on NHS.
“What’s absolutely certain, though, is many businesses are being hammered because of it. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak should be acting immediately to protect workers and businesses.”
But Mr Frew responded: “We see you Colum! Every single proprietor of a pub, licensed restaurant, cinema and theatre that has suffered their business being irretrievably hurt!
“We all see you Colum! #NoVaccinePassportsAnywhere”
Replying to the North Antrm MLA, Mr Eastwood tweeted: “You’re a disgrace, Paul. You’ve been on the wrong side of this from the start.
“Omicron is damaging hospitality. Passports are an attempt to keep them open.
“If we listened to you, hospitals would be overrun and we’d all be locked down. Thankfully, very few do listen to you.”
On Tuesday, the British government said Northern Ireland would receive £25million of funding following the announcement of a £1billion Covid support fund for businesses in England.
It said this “contributes towards” the £75million of Covid funding for Northern Ireland announced by the Treasury at the weekend, on top of a previous £75 million announced earlier.
But Stormont’s Department of Finance had said the announcement last weekend was mostly not new money and that £50million had already featured in its spending plans.
Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/sdlps-colum-eastwood-dups-paul-22534295