Visa Applications

Questions (632)

Holly Cairns

Question:

632. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the details of changes to the visa requirements for citizens of other jurisdictions made since 1 January 2021; the rationale for these changes; if sunset clauses are included in the changes related to Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8983/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As part of Government efforts to tackle the pandemic, new visa requirements on passport holders from a number of countries came into effect at midnight on 27 January 2021. Passport holders of the following countries are now required to apply for an entry visa or transit visa, as appropriate, before travelling to Ireland:

- Brazil

- South Africa

- Argentina

- Bolivia

- Chile

- Colombia (transit visa now required – this country was already subject to entry visa requirements)

- Ecuador (transit visa now required – this country was already subject to entry visa requirements)

- Guyana

- Paraguay

- Peru (transit visa now required – this country was already subject to entry visa requirements)

- Suriname (transit visa now required – this country was already subject to entry visa requirements)

- Uruguay

In addition to the visa requirements above, my Department has temporarily ceased accepting new visa/preclearance applications, with effect from close of business on 29 January 2021, with the exception of those applications which are considered priority/emergency applications. This list includes the following:

- Workers or self-employed persons exercising critical occupations including healthcare workers, frontier and posted workers as well as seasonal workers as referred to in the Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak;

- Transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;

- Patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;

- Pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;

- Persons travelling for imperative family or business reasons;

- Diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;

- Passengers in transit;

- Seafarers;

- Journalists, when performing their duties.

These measures are designed to support our public health restrictions on movement, including into and out of Ireland. The travel restrictions and the measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19, mean that travel may not be possible and, even if possible, is not advisable unless absolutely essential. It is currently against the law for any person (regardless of nationality or passport) to travel within Ireland for non-essential purposes and people can be fined for doing so. Enforcement of this measure has been strongly increased over the last few days.

The strong advice therefore is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.

The situation will continue to be reviewed by the Government in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (633, 679)

Neale Richmond

Question:

633. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health if he plans to introduce emergency contingency plans on international travel within the European Union should the South African variant of Covid-19 become the dominant strain of Covid-19 infections in most European Union member states and the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7992/21]

View answer

Neale Richmond

Question:

679. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health his plans to introduce emergency travel measures if a new and more deadly strain of the Covid-19 virus were to appear in the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7994/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 633 and 679 together.

The Government has actively responded to the risks posed by the evolving epidemiological international situation, including the variants of concern originating in Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

In order to mitigate the risks posed by the new variants of concern, Ireland has moved to a mandatory quarantine regime, with an incorporated testing regime, which involves enforcement measures and penal provisions. Travellers arriving from overseas, including international travellers who arrive via Northern Ireland, are required to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form and provide evidence of a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel upon arrival.

Arriving passengers, with limited exemptions, are required to quarantine for 14 days at the address given on their Passenger Locator Form. A negative or ‘not-detected’ result from a PCR test taken no less than 5 days after arrival can end the quarantine period.

The current list of ‘Category 2 countries’ now includes 20 states and those who arrive from these countries are subject to stricter quarantine requirements. Arrivals from these countries do not have the option to end quarantine early if they test negative.

The operationalisation of designated quarantine facilities is being advanced on a cross-departmental basis as a matter of priority, including the drafting of primary legislation to provide for these facilities.

The Government is closely monitoring the international epidemiological situation and giving close consideration to travel policy based on public health advice.

Abortion Services Provision

Questions (634)

David Cullinane

Question:

634. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the timeline for and details of the scheduled review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 as required under the Act; the way in which he plans to collect evidence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9071/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, section 7 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 states that-

"The Minister shall, not later than 3 years after the commencement of this section, carry out a review of the operation of this Act.”

The review clause was included in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 in order to facilitate monitoring of the operation of the legislation in practice, as well as of the delivery of services in the area.

Officials in my Department are working on details of the review of the operation of the Act, which, as set out in the Programme for Government Our Shared Future, will be conducted in 2021.

Departmental Staff

Questions (635)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

635. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health if his Department has published guidelines for behaviour for persons employed by the State in the health services on the use of social media; the regulations in place; the way in which they are enforced with regard to use of offensive or racist language on online platforms by current staff members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7865/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I understand that the HSE have a Social Media and Digital Use policy which sets out staff use guidelines, however I have referred the Deputy's question to the HSE in order that they can provide a more detailed response to the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

Questions (636)

Seán Canney

Question:

636. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health the reason nurses who retired post-2012 are not receiving all their pension increases under the Public Service Agreement 2018-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7869/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I have requested the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this issue.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (637)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

637. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Health the way in which persons over 70 years of age who do not hold a doctor visit card will be included in the plans for roll-out the Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7872/21]

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.

Hospital Staff

Questions (638)

Joe Flaherty

Question:

638. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Health when the vacant role of diabetic nurse at Mullingar hospital will be filled (details supplied). [7876/21]

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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (639)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

639. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will be called for an operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7877/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to Covid-19.

This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols.

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures. It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care.

In relation to the particular query raised, 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 Services

Questions (640)

Seán Crowe

Question:

640. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health the options available to a person (details supplied) who has been referred to primary care psychology services in the Tallaght south area, only to receive a subsequent letter from the HSE informing them that there are no such services in the area. [7883/21]

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.

Diabetes Strategy

Questions (641, 644)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

641. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of persons with type 1 and 2 diabetes in Ireland by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7892/21]

View answer

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

644. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of persons in each county waiting to participate in a DAFNE course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7895/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 641 and 644 together.

Diabetes occurs as a consequence of the human body being unable to produce sufficient amounts of the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose, or to use insulin effectively. People with diabetes are unable to metabolize glucose appropriately and as a result, blood glucose levels remain above normal levels and over time can damage blood vessels. This can lead to long-term damage and disabling and potentially fatal health complications. In high-income countries, including Ireland, diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-limb amputation.

The most common form of diabetes is type 2, which typically occurs in adults, although it is increasingly seen in young people, including children. Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in children or young people. The third main type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which occurs because the action of insulin is impaired during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is becoming increasingly common against rising levels of overweight and obesity as key risk factors. Those with type 1 diabetes require a regular supply of insulin, while type 2 diabetes is largely preventable and complications can be avoided or delayed through a combination of lifestyle changes, medications or insulin therapy, depending on the status of the condition and the stage of the disease in the person concerned.

Globally, the number of people with diabetes has doubled during the past 20 years, making it one of the most important public health challenges facing national health care systems today. The International Diabetes Federation has recently (2019) estimated that approximately 463 million adults (20-79 years) were living with diabetes globally and that by 2045 this will rise to 700 million. In Ireland it is estimated that there are 190,000 people with diabetes. Approximately 30,000 (15%) of these have Type 1 diabetes, or genetic or secondary causes of diabetes. The remaining 160,000 (85%) patients have Type 2 diabetes with a significant proportion of these patients remaining undiagnosed. It is expected that the number of people with Type 2 diabetes will increase by 60% over the next 10-15 years.

The challenge posed by the changing disease burden has been recognized globally, with diabetes featuring high on national and international agendas including the World Health Organisation and the European Commission. At national level countries in Europe have made progress towards developing a systematic policy response to the diabetes burden. Effective treatment reduces the risk of disability or fatal complications and its optimal management requires coordinated inputs from a wide range of health professionals, access to essential medicines and monitoring, and, ideally, a system that promotes patient empowerment and well-coordinated care. In that context in Ireland the HSE Clinical Programme in Diabetes leads the multidisciplinary coordinated response to the challenges posed by diabetes in Ireland and I have asked them to examine the matters raised by the Deputy and provide a response to him as soon as possible.

Long-Term Illness Scheme

Questions (642)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

642. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of persons with type 1 diabetes who have been approved to use either the Dexcom or FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitors, CGMs, under the long-term illness scheme; if CGMs will be rolled out to all type 1 diabetics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7893/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Diabetes Strategy

Question No. 644 answered with Question No. 641.

Questions (643)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

643. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of persons in each county awaiting insulin pump training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7894/21]

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.

Question No. 644 answered with Question No. 641.

Diabetes Strategy

Questions (645)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

645. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of diabetes treatment-related positions, that is, endocrinologists, diabetes nurses, dietitians and podiatrists in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; the number of positions that are vacant; the length of time these positions have been vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7896/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (646)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

646. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if a facility (details supplied) is being prioritised for vaccinations. [7897/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (647)

James O'Connor

Question:

647. Deputy James O'Connor asked the Minister for Health when persons who provide assistance for those attending educational services and have additional needs (details supplied) will be vaccinated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7898/21]

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 roll-out 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 front-line services often caring for the most vulnerable.

The next group (Group 3) to be vaccinated are those aged 70 and older in the following order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79, and 70-74. Vaccination of this group will begin this month.

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (648)

James O'Connor

Question:

648. Deputy James O'Connor asked the Minister for Health when nurses in intellectual disability centres will be vaccinated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7901/21]

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 roll-out 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 front-line services often caring for the most vulnerable.

The next group (Group 3) to be vaccinated are those aged 70 and older in the following order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79, and 70-74. Vaccination of this group will begin this month.

Front-line 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.

The HSE has published a document on the sequencing of COVID-19 vaccination of front-line healthcare workers, which provides more detail. It is available at the following link:

https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/newsfeatures/covid19-updates/covid-19-vaccine-materials/sequencing-of-covid-19-vaccination-of-frontline-healthcare-workers.pdf

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.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Questions (649)

Duncan Smith

Question:

649. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the provision of an orthopaedic bed for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7908/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (650, 690)

Gerald Nash

Question:

650. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Health the locations of the Covid-19 community vaccination centres in counties Louth and Meath; when they will be operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7915/21]

View answer

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

690. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the arrangements that will be made to provide Covid-19 vaccination centres to the wider population in County Louth by location, including in Drogheda, Dundalk and Ardee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8048/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 650 and 690 together.

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

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (651)

Alan Kelly

Question:

651. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health when front-line staff in section 39 organisations such as front-line emergency homeless services will receive the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7917/21]

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 roll-out 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 front-line services often caring for the most vulnerable.

The next group (Group 3) to be vaccinated are those aged 70 and older in the following order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79, and 70-74. Vaccination of this group will begin this month.

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.

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Questions (652)

Alan Kelly

Question:

652. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health his plans to increase the funding of a task force (details supplied); if he will provide a separate strand of funding to allow for it to carry out an updated community analysis to get a fuller picture of trends in the catchment area and adapt the necessary services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7918/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Drug and alcohol task forces have a key role in coordinating inter-agency action and supporting evidence-informed approaches to problem substance use. The network of 24 task forces receives €29 million in annual funding from the Department of Health and the HSE. These resources should be directed towards interventions and strategies which are most likely to reduce problem substance use and improve public health.

As committed by the Programme for Government, Budget 2021 allocated an additional €1m for targeted drug and alcohol initiatives through the network of drug and alcohol task forces.

The impact of problem drug and alcohol use is a national issue, affecting people from all walks of life. Accordingly, the Department is committed to a population-based approach to allocating resources for drug and alcohol services. This will ensure funding is allocated on an equitable and rational basis in accordance with health and social needs.

The allocation of the additional funding will also be informed by the priorities arising from the mid-term review of the national drugs strategy, which my Department is undertaking in conjunction with stakeholders.

I value the contribution of drug and alcohol task forces to tackling problem substance use and look forward to working with them to maximise the impact of the additional resources provided in Budget 2021.

Workplace Relations Commission

Questions (653)

Alan Kelly

Question:

653. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the breakdown of all section 39 organisations whose workers have received pay restoration ordered by the Workplace Relations Commission to date; the organisations whose workers have yet to receive pay restoration; when all section 39 workers will receive pay restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7919/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

An agreement was reached by parties at the Workplace Relations Commission in October 2018, in relation to a process of pay restoration for staff employed by 50 pilot agencies. Pay restoration commenced in April 2019 with an annual pay increase of up to €1,000. Any outstanding balance would be paid in two equal amounts in 2020 and 2021, if due.

The agreement reached at the WRC noted that some of the organisations (approximately 250) which did not form part of the pilot phase are also likely to have pay restoration issues. It stated that a process of engagement to address this would commence in 2019. It is the organisations who were identified in that initial agreement reached at the WRC in 2018 that are included in this final phase of pay restoration.

Since late 2019, there was a number of meetings between the parties at the WRC, in relation to this final phase. The HSE have been costing this next phase of pay restoration and have asked those eligible 250 organisations, who were included as part of the WRC agreement, to submit an application which will be subject to assessment and verification by the HSE.

I can confirm that following engagement at the Workplace Relations Commission in early December, the parties reached an agreement in relation to the 250 organisations. A payment arrangement consisting of three phases was agreed with the first two payments to be made in 2021.

I have asked the HSE to provide the detailed information that is sought by the Deputy.

Garda Powers

Questions (654)

Seán Haughey

Question:

654. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if An Garda Síochána has the powers to implement the regulation which requires persons who travel from another state into Ireland via Northern Ireland to have a not-detected PCR test result and to observe the statutory quarantine regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7923/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Travellers arriving from overseas, including via Northern Ireland, are required to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form and to have evidence of a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas, including those entering via Northern Ireland,with a limited exemptions, are also required to quarantine for 14 days at the address given on their Passenger Locator Form.

SI No.44 of 2021 places a requirement on overseas travellers who enter the State via Northern Ireland to retain their test result for 14 days after arrival and to produce it if asked by a member of An Garda Síochána.

Garda Powers

Questions (655)

Seán Haughey

Question:

655. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if An Garda Síochána has the powers to prevent persons travelling from Ireland travelling to Belfast International Airport with a view to travelling abroad for non-essential purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7924/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

SI No. 701 of 2020, as amended, provides that a person whose place of residence is in the State may not leave their place of residence without reasonable excuse. A non-exhaustive list of reasonable excuses is contained within the SI. Leaving a place of residence without reasonable excuse is subject to penal provisions under section 31A of the Act of 1947.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland

Questions (656)

Colm Burke

Question:

656. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if he will request the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland to reduce the €350 registration fee for retired nurses who wish to assist in the vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7931/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The issue of waiving of fees for nurses, midwives and other health and social care registrants was raised early in 2020 in the context of removing any barrier to encouraging previous registrants, e.g. retired professionals, to return to the workforce to help with the response to COVID-19. At that time, emergency legislation was introduced which amended all the regulatory acts to provide for a COVID-19 specific register to which no fees would be attached. The Act provided that the COVID-19 registration would end on 31 July 2020, but that this could be extended by means of Ministerial order. Orders were made in July, 2020 extending the temporary registrations to 31 December 2020, and again in December further extending to 30 June 2021 the temporary registration provisions relating to medical practitioners, pharmacists and CORU registrants.

Given that nursing and midwifery registration is based on a calendar year, an Order was not needed in July extending these to end December 2020, but rather the Irish Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMBI) was able to deal with such registrations ( including any new applications ) under its existing legislation. This continues to be the position and I can confirm that retired nurses who wish to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic response , including the vaccination programme, can avail of temporary restoration to the NMBI register free of charge. The NMBI has informed my Department that it is currently working with the HSE and other employers to facilitate speedy restoration in these cases. As part of this, the NMBI is currently updating the registration system MyNMBI so that, from Monday 1 March 2021, fees will be waived automatically upon restoration. In addition, the NMBI is also now making arrangements to refund fees paid by some registrants who may not have been aware of the availability of free temporary restoration for purposes of assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic response. Those wishing to restore on MyNMBI and who need support with the process can contact the NMBI directly at IEReg@nmbi.ie.

Finally, to clarify the general position applying to restoration to the Register. It is open to a nurse or midwife to apply at any time to be removed from the Register of the NMBI , for example on retirement. This is categorised as a voluntary removal and such registrants who later wish to be restored need only to pay the annual renewal fee of €100 , which is the same amount as all other current registrants. Those registrants who have been removed from the register following non-payment of the renewal fee of €100, and who later wish to be restored, incur an additional administration charge of €250 in addition to the annual fee of €100.