Citizenship Ceremonies

Questions (441)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

441. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice the status of the temporary replacement of citizenship ceremonies in which applicants will be able to sign an affidavit declaring loyalty to the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2922/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I was pleased to announce earlier this week that a temporary system is now in place that will enable citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty. This signed statutory declaration replaces the requirement for citizenship applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, which have been temporarily suspended during COVID-19.

Under the temporary new system, qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be sent to them by email from the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department and bring it to one of the listed designated officials. The designated official must witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration.

The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to Citizenship Division. Final processing will then take place and a certificate of naturalisation, will be sent to the applicant.

The new system is in place from 18 January 2021, and my Department will communicate with applicants regarding the requirements, on a phased basis over the next few months until in-person citizenship ceremonies are able to recommence.

It is expected that the 4,000 applicants currently waiting on naturalisation will have been provided with an opportunity to gain citizenship by the end of March. A significant number of healthcare and other frontline workers who have made extraordinary contributions during the pandemic will also benefit from these new arrangements over the coming weeks and months.

It remains my intention that large scale ceremonies will recommence once circumstances allow. Since their establishment in 2011, citizenship ceremonies have been joyous occasions which mark the granting of Irish citizenships in a dignified manner and they have become a welcome addition to our public and civic life. In-person ceremonies have been provisionally scheduled to resume in December 2021, subject to the safety of all involved being assured.

Crime Data

Questions (442)

Sorca Clarke

Question:

442. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons arrested and successfully prosecuted for driving while disqualified in each of the past three years in tabular form. [2928/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed that An Garda Síochána no longer utilise a code for the offence of 'driving while disqualified', as there is no separate offence of ‘driving while disqualified’ provided for in the Road Traffic Acts.

Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended by Section 12 of the Road Traffic Act 2006, creates the offence of ‘Driving without a Driving Licence’ which is liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €1,000, and in any other case, to a fine not exceeding €2,000.

Section 38 (5) of the Act provides an increased penalty in respect of a person who is summarily convicted of an offence of driving without a licence during the period of disqualification (namely a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both). However, the specific offence remains one of driving without a licence, and so the code 'driving while disqualified' has now been discontinued.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that additional powers were provided to An Garda Síochána, allowing the arrest of people, who drive while disqualified from holding a driver's licence, under section 6(b) and (c) of the Road Traffic Act 2014, which came into effect from 22 June 2015.

The following table as provided to me by the Garda authorities sets out the number of proceedings taken in relation to driving without a driving licence 2018 to 2020.

Year

2018

2019

2020

Driving without a Driving licence*

22,564

20,557

16,868

* All figures provided are provisional, operational and subject to change.

The statistics are not compiled in such a way as to identify specific number of detections or arrests for driving while disqualified (as stated, additional powers were provided to An Garda Síochána, allowing the arrest of people, who drive while disqualified, under section 6(b) and (c) of the Road Traffic Act 2014), as this would necessitate a manual trawl of all relevant incidents recorded on PULSE to collate same, which would require a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources.

Further, I have been advised by the Courts Service that the below table displays persons before the courts and persons convicted for the years 2018, 2019 & 2020 for Driving without a Driving Licence & Driving without holding a driving licence.

Year

No. of Persons before the Courts

No. of Persons convicted

2018

16,835

3,544

2019

17,713

3,528

2020

11,080

2,039

The statistics that the Courts Service produce in relation to specific offences are based on running a report on CCTS against the code for each specific offence. Courts can only provide data in relation to where offence codes provided on the system were used by prosecutors. Prosecutors may have used uncoded free text offences and any such offences would not be included in the data provided.

It should further be noted that the information provided by the Courts Service captures the number of persons before the Courts and not the number of proceedings.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (443)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

443. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Justice if she will consider a campaign, including information at Garda stations and advertising in local media, to notify the public and stakeholders regarding the new Covid regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2952/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Department of Health and the HSE are leading the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have primary responsibility for the provision of information to the public about the new public health regulations.

In supporting the public health regulations, the Garda Commissioner and his senior team have implemented a carefully graduated policing response, based on its strong tradition of policing by consent. Garda members engage, explain and encourage members of the public to comply and, only as a last resort, make use of their enforcement powers under these regulations.

An Garda Síochána have kept the public informed about their enforcement of the new regulations through regular press releases, updates to the media, information on their website, and most importantly through the actions of Garda members on the ground every day explaining the regulations to the public and encouraging compliance. An Garda Síochána have given regular updates about the Health Regulations and the different Garda operations such as Navigation, Fanacht and Faoiseamh that are in force during the pandemic.

Important and useful information is also available and regularly updated on the Government website gov.ie regarding the ongoing restrictions to combat COVID-19, the new Health Regulations and other important public health information.

The publication of information on gov.ie is matter for the Department of An Taoiseach, and the provision of information on the Health Regulations is for my colleague the Minister for Health and his Department.

Garda Data

Questions (444)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

444. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí in the Dublin metropolitan region annually on 1 January in each of the years 2016 to 2021, by rank and station in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2953/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. The significant level of funding provided over recent years is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now over 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide.

Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff. The Budget allocation also provides for an increase in supervisory ranks at Sergeant and Inspector level.

More Garda recruits and more Garda staff means extra members of the service on the frontline and in specialist units battling organised crime groups, supporting victims, and keeping people safe.

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no role in decisions on such matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

A detailed breakdown of Garda numbers by Division, District and Station is available on my Department’s website, in the interests of transparency and for the convenience of Deputies and the wider public. This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. The Information on Garda members requested for the years 2016 to 2019 may be accessed at the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce

I am informed by the Garda authorities that figures for the number of Gardaí in the Dublin Metropolitan Region on 31 December 2020, which are not yet published on the website, are shown in the attached table.

Garda Nos.

Legislative Programme

Questions (445)

Denis Naughten

Question:

445. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice her plans to review the current legislation on the theft of dogs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2959/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am very conscious of the huge distress that can be caused by the crime of dog theft and the strong emotional bonds that owners have with their pets.

I can inform the Deputy that there is already comprehensive legislation in place to address such crimes of theft and fraud as well as related animal welfare offences, including:

- The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013;

- Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1965;

- Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 provides for offences of theft, the handling of stolen property and the possession of stolen property. The offence of theft provided for by this legislation would, based on the broad nature of the offence, include the theft of dogs. A maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment is provided for in the case of offences of theft and handling of stolen property; while a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment is provided for the offence of possession of stolen property.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform, James Browne TD, has a strong interest in this issue. Earlier last year, the Bills office approved his own draft Private Member's Bill to strengthen the place of companion pets in legislation. Officials in the Department of Justice have been asked to review this draft legislation and the Minister is in the process of considering their observations.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that approximately 205 domestic dogs and/or pets were reported stolen to An Garda Síochána in 2019. 244 dogs were reported stolen for 2020, an increase of 16%. I am advised that these figures are approximate as they are based on descriptions given on the PULSE system.

With regard to measures aimed at preventing such thefts, I am further informed that information has been disseminated to the Crime Prevention Officers Network countrywide specifically dealing with the topic of dog thefts. The Garda National Crime Prevention Unit's advice on pet safety concurs with the advice from animal welfare groups and animal insurance companies about keeping animals safe. Some of this information can be viewed online at https://www.garda.ie/en/about-us/our-departments/office-of-corporate-communications/news-media/dog-theft-crime-prevention-advice.html

Ongoing patrols throughout the country also act as a deterrent to travelling criminals and thereby help prevent criminal activity. Improved awareness of dog thefts among the community will ensure more vigilance within neighbourhood watch and community alert areas.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Questions (446)

Neale Richmond

Question:

446. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health if Ireland has decided to partake in the rescEU stockpile of medical equipment; if so, the breakdown of supplies received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2186/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission has developed the rescEU medical stockpile and distribution system under the umbrella of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). The stockpile, which is currently hosted across six Member States (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Sweden), enables the delivery of medical equipment to Member States and other participating countries at a reduced cost, or free of charge in some instances.

To date, Ireland has not submitted any requests for medical equipment under rescEU.

Medicinal Products

Questions (447, 574, 592)

Noel Grealish

Question:

447. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health when dupilumab will be available under the general medical services, GMS, and drugs payment schemes for patients with moderate to severe eczema; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2199/21]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

574. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health when it is planned to approve a drug (details supplied), which would be life changing for many persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2616/21]

View answer

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

592. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 569 of 15 December 2020, the status of the January HSE drugs group meeting at which two applications for dupilumab were reconsidered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2642/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 447, 574 and 592 together.

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines under the community drugs schemes, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.

In line with the 2013 Health Act and the national framework agreed with industry, a company must submit an application to the HSE to have a new medicine added to the reimbursement list.

Reimbursement is for licensed indications which have been granted market authorisation by the European Medicines Agency or the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds, on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The NCPE conducts health technology assessments (HTAs) for the HSE and makes recommendations on reimbursement to assist HSE decisions.

The HSE has advised that it has received pricing and reimbursement applications for two indications of Dupilumab (Dupixent):

- For the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in adult patients who are candidates for systemic therapy.

- For the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in adolescents 12 years and older who are candidates for systemic therapy.

The HSE received an application for pricing / reimbursement of Dupilumab in November 2017 from the manufacturer for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in adult patients who are candidates for systemic therapy. The HSE commissioned a full HTA on 29 November 2017 as per agreed processes. This assessment was completed on 12 December 2019 with the NCPE recommending that Dupilumab be considered for reimbursement if cost-effectiveness could be improved relative to existing treatments.

Subsequently, the HSE received an application for the pricing / reimbursement of Dupilumab on 13 December 2019 for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in adolescents 12 years and older who are candidates for systemic therapy.

The HSE commissioned the rapid review process on the 17 December 2019. Following receipt of a rapid review dossier, the NCPE advised the HSE on the 17 January 2020 that a HTA was not recommended and that Dupilumab not be considered for reimbursement for this indication at the submitted price.

The HSE engaged in commercial negotiations with the company in February 2020 regarding both the adult and adolescent populations.

The HSE Drugs Group is the national committee which the HSE has in place to make recommendations on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines. The membership of the HSE Drugs Group includes public interest members and clinicians.

The final HTA report and NCPE recommendations concerning Dupilumab were reviewed by the HSE Drugs Group, along with the outputs of the commercial negotiations, and the patient group submission received during the HTA process. The HSE Drugs Group considered all the evidence and gave a recommendation to the HSE Executive Management Team (EMT) not to support reimbursement of Dupilumab for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in both adults and adolescents 12 years and older who are candidates for systemic therapy.

The HSE has confirmed that the applicant company was issued with notice of the proposed decision of the HSE EMT not to support reimbursement on 21 August 2020. On 18 September 2020, the applicant company submitted representations with respect to this application.

The HSE reviewed these representations, as is required in such circumstances under the 2013 Health Act, and engaged in a meeting in November 2020 with the applicant company to discuss the submission.

The HSE has advised that the HSE Drugs Group, having reviewed the above representations at their January 2021 meeting, supported reimbursement of Dupilumab for a defined subgroup of the full licensed indication. The Drugs Group recommendations have been progressed to the HSE EMT.

The HSE EMT will consider the HSE Drugs Group's recommendations and the applicant’s representations before making a final decision on whether Dupilumab will be approved for reimbursement, in line with the 2013 Act.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (448, 467, 468, 479, 481, 489, 520, 523, 530, 539, 540, 552, 571, 575, 586, 590, 598, 599, 613, 620, 629, 638, 655, 672)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

448. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health if carers of vulnerable persons in the home are scheduled yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2200/21]

View answer

Verona Murphy

Question:

467. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health if he will communicate a definitive guideline as to the stage of the Covid-19 vaccine allocation programme that home carers for the elderly and persons with disabilities will be offered the vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2247/21]

View answer

Verona Murphy

Question:

468. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health if he will communicate a definitive guideline as to the stage of the Covid-19 vaccine allocation programme that dental nurses working in private practice will be offered the vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2248/21]

View answer

David Cullinane

Question:

479. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the position in which National Ambulance Service staff fall in the provisional allocation groups for the Covid-19 vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2288/21]

View answer

Matt Shanahan

Question:

481. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Health if he will review the priority of carers in terms of ranking status in receiving vaccines (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2296/21]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

489. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health if dentists will be included in the Covid-19 vaccination programme during the same period as other healthcare practitioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2313/21]

View answer

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

520. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide for the provision of the Covid-19 vaccine to staff of section 38 and 39 organisations. [2435/21]

View answer

James Browne

Question:

523. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the status regarding the place of family carers within the prioritisation strategy for the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2442/21]

View answer

Steven Matthews

Question:

530. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Health the reason home carers who do not fall into other priority categories in the provisional vaccine groups are not prioritised, given that the knock-on impacts for the health service are clear if they become a positive test case. [2468/21]

View answer

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

539. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health when general practitioners in north County Dublin will be included in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will respond to concerns raised by general practitioners in the area that their priority on the roll-out list is not consummate with their need and the level of danger they face from Covid-19 in their work. [2503/21]

View answer

Niamh Smyth

Question:

540. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if he will review correspondence in relation to the vaccine roll-out for healthcare workers (details supplied); if he will provide clarity on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2504/21]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

552. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if special needs assistants, SNAs, will be prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme. [2552/21]

View answer

Peter Burke

Question:

571. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health if he has considered the prioritisation of vaccination for staff in early years settings which are open while schools and ECCE remain closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2603/21]

View answer

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

575. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if he will address concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied); when he expects the nursing home to be vaccinated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2620/21]

View answer

Marian Harkin

Question:

586. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health if he will consider offering the Covid-19 vaccinations specifically to teachers, SNAs and all healthcare personnel who are working with special needs students on a face-to-face basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2635/21]

View answer

Neale Richmond

Question:

590. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health when general practitioners can expect to receive the Covid-19 vaccine under the vaccine roll-out plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2639/21]

View answer

Cormac Devlin

Question:

598. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health if social care staff of all section 38 and 39 organisations will be included in the priority group two of the Covid-19 vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2659/21]

View answer

Cormac Devlin

Question:

599. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health if persons over 65 years of age working as home helps will be included in the priority group two of the Covid-19 vaccination programme similar to other frontline healthcare workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2660/21]

View answer

Paul Murphy

Question:

613. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if it will be ensured that student nurses are included with other front-line health workers as a priority group to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, given that student nurses are an essential part of the health service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2696/21]

View answer

Willie O'Dea

Question:

620. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health if general practitioners will be prioritised to receive the Covid-19 vaccination; the timeframe for all general practitioners to receive the vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2729/21]

View answer

Neale Richmond

Question:

629. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health the plans in place for students doing placements in the healthcare system to receive the Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2768/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

638. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if he will identify the proposed roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines to mental health services personnel and institutions given the incidents of a number of outbreaks and the potential for the need to deal with the situation in early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2793/21]

View answer

Steven Matthews

Question:

655. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Health if the staff in a general practice surgery are considered to be front-line staff; and if they will be prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. [2844/21]

View answer

Gary Gannon

Question:

672. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Health if healthcare workers within sections 38 and 39 organisations will be included in the second priority group for the vaccination, that is, healthcare workers, supporting those working with persons with disabilities and thus supporting individuals with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2938/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 448, 467, 468, 479, 481, 489, 520, 523, 530, 539, 540, 552, 571, 575, 586, 590, 598, 599, 613, 620, 629, 638, 655 and 672 together.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Carers are a diverse group, therefore, each individual will be vaccinated in the group that is appropriate to them.

Health Services Staff

Questions (449)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

449. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to differences in the pay and conditions for contact tracing staff located in centres in Galway relative to those centres based in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, particularly in relation in the working of 12-hour shifts three days in a row, the difference in pay between clinical and non-clinical contact tracers, various breaches of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, CPSA, codes of best practice in public service appointments and the alleged failure to adhere to the Health and Safety Authority, HSA, return to work protocol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2204/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy, as soon as possible.

Dental Services

Questions (450)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

450. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reimbursed for an emergency dental procedure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2214/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (451)

David Cullinane

Question:

451. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the position of dentists, pharmacists and similar healthcare professionals in prioritisation in the Covid-19 vaccine allocation groups, given they are patient facing but are not being addressed as part of the first group of patient-facing healthcare workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2218/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for my Department and further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) in direct patient contact roles will be vaccinated in Group 2. This includes HCWs working in public, private, and voluntary settings. Other HCWs, not in direct patient contact, will be vaccinated in Group 4.

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Primary Care Centres

Questions (452)

Niall Collins

Question:

452. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health his plans for a primary care centre (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2219/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the HSE has responsibility for the provision, along with the maintenance and operation of Primary Care Centres and other Primary Care facilities, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (453)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

453. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health when he expects the vaccine roll-out to cover the private dentistry profession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2226/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for my Department and further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) in direct patient contact roles will be vaccinated in Group 2. This includes HCWs working in public, private, and voluntary settings. Other HCWs, not in direct patient contact, will be vaccinated in Group 4.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (454)

Matt Shanahan

Question:

454. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Health if he will communicate the need for the provision of sanitiser and-or hand detergent at the entrance to stores to remain in place (details supplied); the steps he will take to mandate this practice be provided at open retail stores, garage forecourts and convenience stores; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2228/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

To support the ongoing public health advice to government provided by the NPHET, the Department’s Press and Communications unit works closely with the HSE Communications team to raise the profile of the key public health messages amongst the general public, including hand washing and safe shopping.

- HSE national advertising campaigns include the promotion of all key public health messages including the importance of hand hygiene to minimise the spread of COVID-19

- HSE engage on an ongoing basis with many large retailers in the dissemination of public health advice

- Guidance on handwashing is available on HSE.ie and publicity materials such as posters for noticeboards and public spaces are available for download here: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/ee0781-covid-19-posters-for-public-use/ and https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/newsfeatures/covid19-updates/partner-resources

- The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has published a ‘Retail Protection and Improvement Guide’ to help retailers manage business continuity during the COVID-19 emergency, available here https://www.nsai.ie/images/uploads/general/NSAI-COVID19-Retail-Guidelines-13012021.pdf

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (455)

Noel Grealish

Question:

455. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the current status of a community Covid-19 assessment hub for Galway; the timeframe for the opening of such a hub; if there are delays; if so, the cause of these delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2229/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.