Sinn Féin TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan has criticised the closure of the vaccination centre at Limerick Racecourse over a number of days in June and July to facilitate race meetings.

He has called on the Minister for Health to clarify who made this decision.

Mr Quinlivan said a number of people had contacted him regarding their vaccine appointment being moved to Nenagh and in some cases to Mallow in Co Cork, and that it appears this has been done to facilitate race meetings.

He said: "This is just incredible. We are in the middle of a public health emergency, there has been a spike in Covid cases in Limerick over the last few weeks, and yet we are closing our vaccine centre.

"It's farcical in the extreme that this vaccine centre will be closed to facilitate a horse race meeting."

Mr Quinlivan added: "It is an affront to the people of Limerick that this commercial activity would trump the vaccination program at a time when we have seen a worrying rise of Covid numbers in Limerick."

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A spokesperson for the HSE vaccination programme in Limerick said it had been built into their contract with Limerick Racecourse that it would be unavailable for vaccinations on five days over June and July, namely on 12, 18 June and on 4, 10 and 22 July and that the capacity of vaccinations was not being diminished or reduced at all because of this.

He said they had increased their vaccination capacity to 46 booths at Limerick Racecourse in comparison to 32 booths at the Radisson Hotel, which had been the vaccination centre for Limerick up to 8 June last.

The spokesperson added that they are on target to deliver 24,000 vaccinations in Limerick next week, and a further 7,000 in both Ennis and Nenagh.

He said people being offered their vaccines in Nenagh or other locations is completely unconnected to the contracted closure days at Limerick Racecourse.

Mr Quinlivan asked why this information was not disclosed at last week's briefing with Health Minister Stephan Donnelly.

He said the only exceptions for the closure of a vaccination centre during a pandemic is lack of vaccines and nothing else.

Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell said closing the vaccination centre at Limerick racecourse on dates in June and July is wholly unacceptable.

He has now written to Health Minister Stephan Donnelly, HSE CEO Paul Reid and to Professor Paul Burke, who is the Group Lead for the three vaccination centres in the Mid-West, asking that an alternative vaccination centre be established for those five days.

Mr O'Donnell said with 3,400 vaccinations being administered per day, that's 17,000 less vaccinations being administered with the five-day closure.

Prof Burke said in a statement that no vaccinations had been scheduled for the days of the closure and no vaccinations had been cancelled.

Meanwhile, Public Health Mid-West has confirmed they are investigating Covid-19 infection in 46 workplaces involving 143 cases and an estimated 305 close contacts.

Over the past 14 days they have recorded more than 800 cases in Limerick, more than 70 in Clare and 35 in north Tipperary.

They are encouraging people to continue to get tested. Two walk-in centres continue at Ballysimon road in Limerick and at St Joseph's health campus in Mulgrave street and at Kilmallock in Co Limerick.

A pop up test centre will operate at Moyross health centre over the weekend.