Labour leader Alan Kelly has called for Covid-19 booster shots to be made available to everyone in the country from early next year, and antigen tests to be made available free-of-charge initially.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week In Politics, he said: "I believe once the healthcare workers have been boosted, we need to move onto the full population."

He said it was "a Government decision" once the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) had been asked if the approach was "scientifically okay".

The Labour leader added: "I want the infrastructure that's in place with the HSE - come late January - to be used to boost everyone in the country."

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He said Ireland had around 17 million to 18 million vaccines, which meant that it would be possible to boost the entire country and still give away 10 million vaccines to developing countries.

Deputy Kelly said: "I believe our duty, as the representatives of the people, is to protect them - and the best way of doing that is boosting the whole population and having antigen testing."

Asked how antigen testing would be paid for, the Labour leader said: "I believe, for a period of time, we should be giving recognised brands of antigen testing to families across the country free-of-charge - and then subsidise them."

He said he thinks it would be very difficult to go back to "any form of lockdown".

Yesterday, Alan Kelly delivered his first address as Labour leader to the party's national conference.

Speaking at the Mansion House in Dublin, he defined himself as the person who would be the "voice of those who are running to stand still".

He lambasted parties who claimed they can cut taxes and improve public services, telling delegates: "It is a con. They are telling you lies."

Labour wants a new deal for Ireland "on housing, on climate, on care, for workers", he told the conference.

Today, Deputy Kelly said when it comes to future public services there is a need for proper taxation and referred to the importance of supporting property tax and environmental taxes.

He said they will look at all options after an election "which could be a number of years away".

On climate, the Labour leader said he was disappointed with some aspects coming out of COP26.

He said there is "not enough urgency on climate" and everything is taking too long.

However, he also acknowledged that there is a need to be realistic with regards to the economy.

When asked about Ireland's commitment to the reduction of methane gases, he said his party's view would be closer to the Government's position (10%) but said they could make up for this in other ways.

He also reiterated his stance that climate should not be considered "as urban versus a rural issue".

"Why are we so slow with off-shore? Why are we so slow with new technologies? Why are we cutting seven more times than we are planting? These are the issues that Eamon Ryan has to grasp and not in three or four or five years' time. But immediately and that should be his priority."