Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 264-287
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Court Sittings
 Header Item Firearms Seizures
 Header Item Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge
 Header Item Irish Prison Service
 Header Item Garda Transport Provision
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item Cancer Services
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item Respite Care Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Disability Support Services

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 110 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 264-287

Citizenship Applications

 264. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will arrange a virtual meeting between her officials and a person (details supplied) in the process of seeking Irish citizenship. [43616/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The application from the person referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of processing. It is currently being prepared for submission to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. As the application is at the final stages of processing it is not considered that there would be any additional benefit to the applicant in arranging a virtual meeting with my officials at this time.

My Department will revert immediately once a decision has been reached on the application and the applicant's patience in this matter is appreciated.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Direct Provision System

 265. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will consider expanding the current regularisation scheme to direct provision residents; if not, the reason for not including them in this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43619/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Programme for Government contains a commitment to bring forward a regularisation scheme within 18 months of the formation of the Government, to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents, meeting specified criteria and bearing in mind Ireland's European Union (EU) and Common Travel Area (CTA) commitments.

Currently there is no scheme for the undocumented but work is underway in my Department to give effect to this commitment. This work is being informed by an assessment of international best practice and having regard to our EU and CTA commitments. I intend to consult with relevant Government Departments, civil society and other interested parties, before finalising the Scheme, which I expect to be in a position to launch in the second half of 2021.

In the meantime, I would encourage any person who is resident in the State without permission to contact my Department or their local immigration office and to take all appropriate steps to regularise their own and their family's status. In all cases, people must engage with the authorities if they wish to be permitted to remain here legally.

Insofar as persons residing in State provided accommodation are concerned, they are either in the international protection process, including appeals to initial decisions, or the leave to remain process. A small number, having been unsuccessful in their application for international protection, have been issued with deportation orders. If unsuccessful, I as Minister for Justice, have the discretion to grant permission to remain, where appropriate, or I can consider a case for permission to remain if made following the issue of a deportation order.

While I will keep the matter under review, persons who have applied for international protection are the subject of a thorough process laid out by the Oireachtas in statute to meet Ireland's international obligations. Accordingly, it is not my intention, at this stage, to include them in a separate discretionary regularisation scheme.

Residency Permits

 266. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress to date in the determination of an application for a residency card under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 in the case of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43679/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The person referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for a EU1 - Residence card with the EU Treaty Rights section of the Immigration Service of my Department on 27 November 2020.

Processing of this application is ongoing at present. As each application is examined on its own merits, it is not possible to give an exact timeframe for completion. However, the applicant can be assured that there will be no avoidable delay in finalising the application.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Court Sittings

 267. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if the written and audio DAR record of court proceedings is given free of charge and without undue delay or a written legal reason for refusal be provided in accordance with Directive (EU) 2016/680 in cases in which a litigant applies to the court office. [43728/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided the following update on this matter.

  All records created in relation to court proceedings are considered 'court records'. As these records relate to the business of the court, they are within the control of the judge concerned. In accordance with the Constitution, the judiciary are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. Court offices do not control the release of the recordings or transcripts.

  Special procedures are in place for any party who wishes to apply for access to a recording of court proceedings (also known as the “DAR” recording). Rules of court govern the procedure to be followed when seeking access to any recording of court proceedings and the terms on which access may be allowed. These rules are prescribed in the following statutory instruments:

- S.I. No. 99 of 2013 - District Court Rules (Recording of Proceedings) 2013  

- S.I. No. 100 of 2013 - Circuit Court Rules (Recording of Proceedings) 2013  

- S.I. No. 101 of 2013 - Superior Court Rules (Recording of Proceedings) 2013  

  Any request for access to a recording of court proceedings must be made by formal application to the trial judge in the proceedings, and on notice to the other party or parties to the proceedings.

  It is a matter for the judge to decide whether, and in what format, access to a recording of court proceedings is provided. The reasons for a judge's decision not to release records would be pronounced in open court and could be included in any order that is handed down.

  The court may turn down an application for a recording or transcript where the person making the application is unconnected to the proceedings. However, if they have legitimate grounds to access the information, it is issued to them.

  If an application for court recordings has been granted by the judge, the applicant may have to pay the transcription costs (unless the judge directs otherwise). The payment of the fee for the transcript is typically only levied in civil matters and the cost of producing a transcript of a recording is approximately €200 per hour of audio recording. Where a transcript is already prepared for a criminal trial judge, the party seeking the transcript would not be asked to pay a fee.

  The Courts Service does not record the length of time between an application being lodged, the date of the court application and the release of a record of proceedings. However, in general, once a court grants such an application, the copy record is produced on a priority basis and sent to the person who has applied for it within a matter of days.

Firearms Seizures

 268. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she has given consideration to following the example of the Home Office in the United Kingdom whereby a three-month weapon amnesty has been launched in circumstances in which those involved are compensated for their weapons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43827/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I can advise the Deputy that An Garda Síochána tackles the issue of illegal weapons on a daily basis at both local and national levels through a range of targeted and intelligence based operations, often disrupting and preventing incidents, as well as detecting and prosecuting those involved.

  There was a firearms amnesty for a two month period in late 2006. However, that was in the specific context of new licensing arrangements being introduced and represented an opportunity for people to regularise their situation before the heavier penalties provided for in the legislation came into force.

  It was not expected that the 2006 Amnesty would result in hardened criminals handing up weapons and it would not be the expected outcome of the introduction of a weapons amnesty now.

  Equally, I am not convinced it is desirable to allow people who hold firearms illegally to evade the legal consequences for that.

  In regard to other weapons such as knives, the Deputy may wish to be aware that the consistent expert advice from An Garda Síochána is that such an amnesty is not likely to yield any significant benefits. Indeed, in many instances, ordinary household/kitchen knives are used in knife crimes and it has not been the experience that knives of this type are handed in during any amnesty.

  I will however, continue to keep this matter under review.

Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge

 269. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Dlí agus Cirt Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee cad iad na pleananna atá ag a Roinn chun seirbhísí faoina riar a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge, chun cur le líon na seirbhísí atá ar fáil trí Ghaeilge faoina riar, agus chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, le linn 2021. [43885/20]

 270. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Dlí agus Cirt Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee sonrú a dhéanamh ar gach post atá sainaitheanta mar phost a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge leis ina Roinn faoi láthair, líon na bhfostaithe ina Roinn a bhfuil cumas sa Ghaeilge acu, agus líon iomlán na bhfostaithe ina Roinn. [43886/20]

 271. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Dlí agus Cirt Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee sainiú a dhéanamh ar na fadhbanna is práinní i leith seirbhísí faoi riar a Roinne a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge sna ceantair Ghaeltachta, agus cad atá beartaithe aici chun iad a réiteach. [43887/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Tá fúm Ceisteanna Uimh. 269, 270 agus 271 a fhreagairt le chéile.

  Tá 27 ball foirne ar fáil ag mo Roinnse chun seirbhísí a sholáthar (ceisteanna agus fiosruithe a fhreagairt) as Gaeilge. Formhór na n-oifigeach sin d’fhreastail siad ar chúrsa amháin, ar a laghad, de na 23 chúrsa Gaeilge a reáchtáladh in oifigí na Roinne i mBaile Átha Cliath agus i gCill Airne ó 2006 (bliain tosaigh feidhme Scéim Ghaeilge na Roinne) i leith. Cóiríodh na cúrsaí sin go speisialta d’oifigigh na Roinne, agus bhain siad le labhairt agus le scríobh na Gaeilge araon.

  Ina theannta sin, thug – agus tugann – mo Roinn tacaíocht do bhaill foirne ar mian leo freastal ar chúrsaí lasmuigh den Roinn agus do bhaill foirne ar mian leo cúrsaí Gaeilge ar-líne a dhéanamh. Tá Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge bainte amach ag roinnt oifigeach de chuid na Roinne, agus tá Céim Mháistreachta bainte amach ag oifigeach amháin, mar shampla.

  Faoi láthair tá 15 oifigeach ag glacadh páirte, ar leibhéil éagsúla, i gcúrsa an Teastais sa Ghaeilge Ghairmiúil atá á chur ar fáil ag Gaelchultúr. Tá iarratais ó 11 oifigeach eile ar mian leo tús a chur le cúrsa, agus ó 4 oifigeach ar mian leo dul ar aghaidh go leibhéal níos airde, á measúnú ó thaobh na hinniúlachta de faoi láthair i gcomhair cúrsaí a bheidh ag tosú in Earrach na bliana seo chugainn. Táimid ag súil leis, trína bhfreastal ar na cúrsaí sin, go gcuirfear le cumas agus le muinín na n-oifigeach sin, ó thaobh labhairt agus scríobh na Gaeilge de, chun freastal ar an bpobal trímheán na Gaeilge.

  Gach aon bhliain, le breis is deich mbliana anuas, cuirtear ócáid mhór cheiliúrtha Sheachtain na Gaeilge ar siúl i mo Roinn le deis a thabhairt don fhoireann Gaeilge a labhairt lena chéile agus Gaeilge a chloisteáil.

  Tá 2,526 fostaí i mo Roinnse agus sna gníomhaireachtaí atá faoi choimirce na Roinne. Mar is eol don Teachta, déantar baill foirne le haghaidh mo Roinne a earcú tríd an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí. Maidir le hiarrthóirí a shanntar, ní chuirtear eolas faoina inniúlacht teanga ar fáil do mo Roinn.

  Tá post amháin ag mo Roinn, post Aistritheora, a bhfuil sé riachtanach go mbeadh an sealbhóir dátheangach go feidhmiúil sa Ghaeilge agus sa Bhéarla. Is é príomhról an Aistritheora ná Rialacha Cúirte a aistriú go Gaeilge. Ó thosaigh an obair sin, sa bhliain 2003, tá na bailiúcháin mhóra de na Rialacha Cúirte Dúiche, na Rialacha Cúirte Cuarda agus Rialacha na nUaschúirteanna, mar aon leis an gcuid is mó de na Leasuithe orthu, foilsithe ag mo Roinn. Le cabhair airgid ó Roinn na Gaeltachta, tá an téarmaíocht atá sna bailiúcháin mhóra sin, agus i roinnt de na Leasuithe ar na Rialacha sin, curtha ar fáil don phobal i gcoitinne. Tá téarmaí bailithe as na Rialacha ag Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge, in Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus curtha ar fáil acu i bhfoclóirí leictreonacha atá á riaradh acu. Le blianta beaga anuas cuireadh téarmaí Gaeilge ar fáil ar na foclóirí leictreonacha www.focal.ie, www.tearma.ie agus www.gaois.ie a baineadh as na trí mhórbhailiúchán rialacha cúirte, mar atá, Rialacha na nUaschúirteanna, 1986 (1,000+ lch), na Rialacha Cúirte Dúiche, 1997 (c. 1,200 lch) agus na Rialacha Cúirte Cuarda, 2001, ach go háirithe.

  I dtaca le réimse na seirbhísí a sholáthraíonn an Roinn Dlí agus Cirt don phobal trí Ghaeilge, seachas na Rialacha Cúirte thuasluaite, faoi mar atá ráite in alt 2.2 de Scéim Ghaeilge na Roinne, ‘is ceart a thabhairt do d’aire nach ndéanann an Roinn, go ginearálta, seirbhísí a sholáthar go díreach don phobal. Tá comhlachtaí ar nós an Gharda Síochána, Chlárlann na Talún, na Seirbhíse Cúirteanna agus Sheirbhís Phríosúin na hÉireann freagrach go ginearálta as seirbhísí a sheachadadh laistigh den chreat beartais atá leagtha síos ag an Roinn. Tá gach ceann de na comhlachtaí sin, mar aon le 16 chomhlacht eile san Earnáil Cheartais agus Chomhionannais, liostaithe mar Chomhlacht Poiblí sa Chéad Sceideal a ghabhann leis an Acht [i.e. Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003] agus é freagrach as scéim ar leithligh a ullmhú.’

  Ba mhaith liom aird an Teachta a dhíriú, chomh maith, ar alt 1.5 den Scéim: ‘D’ainneoin raon leathan a réimsí feidhme, go ginearálta ní sholáthraíonn an Roinn seirbhísí go díreach don phobal ach i roinnt réimsí sonracha. I láthair na huaire, cuireann an Roinn líon teoranta seirbhísí ar fáil go dátheangach. Tá foilseacháin chorparáideacha na Roinne – Ráiteas Straitéise, Tuarascáil Bhliantúil, Cairt an Chustaiméara, doiciméid bheartais agus roinnt Ionstraimí Reachtúla – ar fáil i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. Tá páipéar ceannteidil na Roinne, cuid dá foirmeacha, dá príomhchomharthaíocht agus dá fógraí réamhthaifeadta teileafóin ar fáil i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. Ag brath ar a gcineál agus ar an sprioclucht léite, cuireann an Roinn cuid dá fógráin phreasa i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla.’ Aon chomhfhreagras a fhaightear i nGaeilge freagraítear i nGaeilge é.

  I dtaca le pleananna chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn agus cur le seirbhísí Gaeilge sa bhliain 2021, beidh a fhios ag an Teachta go bhfuilimid ag súil leis go ndéanfar Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú), 2019, a achtú go luath san Athbhliain. Faoi alt 19A atá le cur isteach in Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003  , leis an Acht Leasaithe sin, déanfar caighdeáin teanga a fhorordú a mbeidh feidhm acu maidir le comhlacht poiblí nó maidir le haicme comhlachtaí poiblí – mo Roinnse san áireamh – chun úsáid na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn chun críoch oifigiúil sa Stát. Tá an Roinn Dlí agus Cirt ag súil leis na caighdeáin sin a phlé leis an Roinn Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus na Meán a luaithe agus is féidir an bhliain seo chugainn.

Irish Prison Service

 272. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will intervene in the case of a person (details supplied) given that they have been classified as high-risk; if she will ensure that the person does not suffer financial disadvantage due to an underlying health condition; and the options available in respect of sick pay and-or other financial supports they may avail of should the Irish Prison Service remove them from the payroll. [43935/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I wish to refer the Deputy to my recent post reply response to Parliamentary Question Number 744 from 24 November 2020, which sets out the up to date position on this query.

Garda Transport Provision

 273. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if funding will be provided for the replacement of the three oldest horse trailers attached to the Garda mounted unit. [43963/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána as well as for decisions in relation to the allocation and management of Garda equipment and resources. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

I am informed by the Garda authorities the Garda Mounted Unit is based at Áras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. The unit has a national remit under the direction and control of Assistant Commissioner, Organised and Serious Crime and the operational control of Chief Superintendent, Operational Support Services. There are currently five operational double horseboxes attached to the Garda Mounted Unit, two of which were replaced in 2020. I am informed that there are presently no plans to replace another horsebox unless a need arises.

Departmental Budgets

 274. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the current budgets in her Department for social media advertising for 2021; and the campaigns behind each budget line in tabular form. [44026/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee My Department uses social media advertising where appropriate. It is used in order to highlight a wide range of important justice issues to the public, for example, the No Excuses and Still Here public awareness campaigns to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. Social media can be more cost-effective than traditional media and is particularly useful in reaching younger audiences.

As of yet, my Department does not have an allocated budget for social media spend for 2021.

Cancer Services

 275. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to an exchange with this Deputy during Leaders' Questions on 8 December 2020, if he has sought clarity on the situation whereby the HSE CervicalCheck programme maintains that the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal have not been wronged and are merely unfortunate, while the Government is apologising to these women for wrongdoing and the courts are ruling that they have been wronged. [43635/20]

 276. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to an exchange with this Deputy during Leaders' Questions on 8 December 2020, if he agrees with the clinical director of CervicalCheck in her contention that the courts are wrong in their rulings that smear tests were read in a manner which was neglectful in respect of the CervicalCheck scandal. [43636/20]

 283. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his views on the contention of the clinical director of CervicalCheck that the courts are wrong in their rulings that smear tests were read in a manner which was neglectful in respect of the CervicalCheck scandal. [43632/20]

 284. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will clarify the situation whereby the CervicalCheck programme maintains that the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal have not been wronged and are merely unfortunate, while the Government is apologising to these women for wrongdoing and the courts are ruling that they have been wronged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43633/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 275, 276, 283 and 284 together.

  The HSE has confirmed that CervicalCheck is not in opposition to the actions of the Supreme Court or of the Government.

  The HSE, National Screening Service (NSS) and CervicalCheck programme have been recently communicating about the contents and recommendations of Expert Reference Groups’ (ERG) reports, which were published by the HSE on 21st October 2020, and which set out the future framework for clinical audit of interval cancers in our cancer screening programmes (CervicalCheck, BreastCheck and BowelScreen).

  These reports were commissioned by the HSE in line with recommendations in the Scally Scoping Inquiry, and the full reports are available on the HSE website.

  As Minister for Health, my priority is to continue the work to restore the CervicalCheck screening programme as a leading international cancer screening programme, to improve public trust and confidence in screening, and further the global aim to eradicate cervical cancer.

Disability Support Services

 277. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the criteria that determine whether or not a dog can be classified as an assistance dog; and the body responsible for setting such criteria. [43907/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

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

Respite Care Services

 278. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43612/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 279. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the position on the benefit of wearing masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including the latest international data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43613/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The public health advice relating to COVID-19, including for face coverings, is kept under continuous review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), by my Department and the Government. The NPHET reviews international developments as a component of their overall examination of the evolving epidemiology of the COVID-19 and are informed by the international scientific evidence, and guidance by international bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). WHO and ECDC guidance is formulated in the context of considered appraisal of the international experience and accumulating scientific evidence in relation to COVID-19.

  The aim of face coverings is to reduce the spread of infection by acting as a source control to stop the spread of infection by the person wearing the covering (including those who do not know they are infected, such as those with no symptoms) or to protect the wearer from droplet splashes or inhaling airborne contaminants including small (aerosol) and large particle droplets.

  Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the advice we are giving is that the use of face covering by persons going out in public has been recommended by an increasing number of countries. In Ireland, cloth face coverings are recommended in situations where physical distancing may not be possible, in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation. Face coverings are also mandatory on public transport, including in taxis, as well as in bus and rail stations and in shops and other retail outlets. In restaurants, you should wear a face covering on your way to and from your table.

  The wearing of face coverings is also recommended when visiting the homes of those who are over 70 years of age or who are medically vulnerable, by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are over 70 years of age who are medically vulnerable, and if you are travelling in a vehicle with someone you don't live with.

  The relevant regulations in relation to face coverings are outlined below and can be viewed at:- https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/1f150-view-statutory-instruments-related-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/

  - Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid19) (Face Coverings on Public Transport) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 512/2020)

  - Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid19) (Face Coverings in certain premises and businesses) Regulations 2020 (S.I No. 511/2020)

  - Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (Face Coverings in Small Public Service Vehicles and Certain Premises) Regulations 2020 S.I. (No. 569 of 2020)

  - Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (Face Coverings in Certain Premises and Businesses) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 571 of 2020)

  To inform national efforts in response to COVID-19, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is developing Health Technology Assessment evidence summaries to answer specific research questions posed by the NPHET. For your information, the HIQA evidence summaries on various topics, including on the use of face masks in the community is available at:- https://www.hiqa.ie/reports-and-publications/health-technology-assessments An updated version of the HIQA evidence summary was presented to NPHET at its meeting on December 10th and will be published shortly.

  The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has also published a range of guidance documents, including guidance of the use of face coverings, which are available at the following link:- https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/

  The current advice regarding face coverings, including the circumstances in which it is mandatory to wear a face covering, is available at http://www.gov.ie/facecoverings/ and   https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/face-coverings-masks-and-covid-19/when-to-wear.html.

Hospital Appointments Status

 280. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when a person (details supplied) will be facilitated with surgery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43625/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer most scheduled care activity in March, April, and May of this year. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the advice of the World Health Organisation.

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.

The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

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.

Disability Support Services

 281. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will intervene in the case of a person (details supplied). [43627/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Dental Services

 282. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if there is an appeals process under the HSE orthodontic treatment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43631/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

  Questions Nos. 283 and 284 answered with Question No. 275.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 285. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43646/20]

 293. Deputy Emer Higgins Information on Emer Higgins Zoom on Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will instruct the task force on Covid-19 vaccination to include persons with Down's syndrome in the group of persons aged 18 to 64 with certain medical conditions in the provisional vaccine allocation groups document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43671/20]

 294. Deputy Matt Shanahan Information on Matt Shanahan Zoom on Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to the fact that research has concluded that persons with Down's syndrome are five times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 and ten times more likely to die as a result of Covid-19 than the average citizen; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the provisional vaccine allocation groups document does not include persons with Down's syndrome in the group of people aged 18 to 64 with certain medical conditions; the priority being afforded to persons with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43699/20]

 300. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the age groups that will receive the Covid-19 vaccine; the reason certain groups will not be prioritised, including immunocompromised adults and children under 18 years of age, all children under 12 years of age, persons with Down's syndrome and carers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43727/20]

 303. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the stage in the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out at which those in active addiction will be vaccinated given previous assertions that these groups and those in recovery are at high risk of Covid-19. [43748/20]

 304. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will consider making persons with intellectual disabilities and-or Down's syndrome a higher priority for the Covid-19 vaccination in view of the fact that persons with Down's syndrome, like others at increased risk of severe disease due to Covid-19, have spent most of 2020 in isolation. [43751/20]

 306. Deputy Marian Harkin Information on Marian Harkin Zoom on Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will revise the provisional vaccine allocation groups document to include persons with Down's syndrome in the group of people aged 18 to 64 with certain medical conditions, given that research highlights the increased risk of hospitalisation, severe disease and death among adults with Down's syndrome who contract Covid-19; the reason the decision was taken to initially exclude persons with Down's syndrome from this group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43760/20]

 309. Deputy Neasa Hourigan Information on Neasa Hourigan Zoom on Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if persons with Down's syndrome will be included in the people aged 18 to 64 years with medical conditions Covid-19 vaccine allocation group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43772/20]

 338. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if persons with Down's syndrome are included in the grouping of persons in the 18 to 64 age category with underlying health conditions in respect of the provisional vaccine allocation groups document; if not, the category they are in (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43970/20]

 353. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if persons with Down's syndrome will be included in the Covid-19 vaccine allocation strategy; if so, the group within which they fall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44071/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 285, 293, 294, 300, 303, 304, 306, 309, 338 and 353 together.

 The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional priority list of groups for vaccination once a safe and effective vaccine(s) has received authorisation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

  The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and Department of Health, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

  The Allocation Framework was developed to consider how to prioritise different groups. It is based on (1) ethical principles and (2) epidemiological considerations, and takes account of the current and evolving understanding of distinctive characteristics of COVID-19 disease, its modes of transmission, the groups and individuals most susceptible to infection and the characteristics of the candidate vaccines. The primary aim of the allocation strategy is focus on the prevention of sickness and mortality, and to preserve the health of people, by prioritising those at highest risk.

  The Strategy is a further component to the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will evolve and adapt with more detailed information on the vaccines and their effectiveness. Sequencing within and/or between cohorts, in line with the Vaccination Allocation Strategy, may be necessary due to the epidemiological situation at any given time, as well as the characteristics of the available vaccine(s), and as new data emerges, including the logistical challenges their distribution poses.

  Further information on the Strategy can be found at:

  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/

Health Services Provision

 286. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to implement the recommendations of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution report relating to freely available contraception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43652/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  A Working Group was established in April 2019 to consider the range of policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception in Ireland. The Group’s report, which was published in October 2019, identified the barriers that exist to accessing contraception and the mechanisms available to overcome those barriers.

Following the report, it was clear that a sizable body of work would need to be addressed in order to develop and finalise the policy approach, bring forward the necessary legislative proposals and ensure the implementation of service delivery arrangements. The need to focus on and prioritise the response to the current pandemic has delayed progress on this issue during 2020.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to expand access to free contraception for women aged 17-25. The Minister is committed to promoting Women’s Health and Wellbeing, and significant funding to promote women’s health was announced as part of Budget 2021.

Disability Support Services

 287. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he has undertaken a review of the system for early assessment and prioritisation of therapies for children with special needs which despite extra resources seems to continue to struggle to provide time supports; his views on whether the success on the pilot integrating therapies into the school provided model offers an opportunity of a different approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43653/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way.

  The Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

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


Last Updated: 25/01/2021 14:25:02 First Page Previous Page Page of 110 Next Page Last Page