North/South Ministerial Council: Plenary and Institutional

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 18th January 2021.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin 12:45 pm, 18th January 2021

Maybe we will start singing to you in the Chamber

[Laughter.]

Hope is really important. As with everything in life, you always have to give people hope. It has been a hugely challenging year for everybody. It has been so difficult on so many fronts. The separation, the fact that people have not been able to get together and all those things have challenged every one of us. Now that we have the vaccine, the hope is that we can see light at the end of the tunnel. The hope is that we are rolling it out at speed. As of last week, 5% of the population had been vaccinated. Something like 97% of our care home residents have received their first dose; almost 70% have received the second dose. All those things are really positive. The hope is that, if we can continue in that vein and pull out all the stops to get the maximum number of people vaccinated as quickly as possible, all of us can get back to some semblance of normality. Whilst we are still restricted right now — we still have to keep doing this, we cannot take our foot off the pedal and we have to keep working at it — we have to keep reminding people that something brighter is mere months away.