Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (656)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

656. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the discussions that have been held with Northern Ireland in relation to the possibility of a joint zero-Covid-19 strategy between the two jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2852/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There has been, and continues to be, significant engagement and cooperation between the Ministers for Health, the Chief Medical Officers, and the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic. Recently the Chief Medical Officers in Northern Ireland and Ireland collaborated on a joint statement voicing their concerns about the high levels of COVID-19 and urging everyone to stay home.

Both administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so and on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. This approach is underpinned a Memorandum of Understanding agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland in April 2020 to strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In November, this overarching agreement was supplemented with a further Memorandum of Understanding in relation to a framework for mutual support for the provision of critical care.

Meetings of the North South Ministerial Council are also an important pillar in our regular engagements with Northern Ireland counterparts on COVID-19.

I am committed to continue this close and productive cooperation with Northern Ireland to foster commonality in approaches, where possible, in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.