Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages


12:00 pm

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I will, and I will also respond to some of the other points when I sum up. I can assure Senator Reilly that the State has made no decision at any point that would allow a building site that is not safe for people who are working on it to continue to stay open. We want to ensure that we can help employers, be they on building sites or elsewhere, where work continues to go on in a way that is consistent with guidelines as outlined. If there is not consistency with the guidelines and workers are working under undue risk, then those sites should be closed. The guidelines from the public health emergency team are clear on that. As a result of this there will be increased effort to engage with employers to make sure the guidelines are being observed on building sites and on other work sites.

With regard to section 39 organisations, I know exactly what Senator Humphreys is saying. I am dealing with a section 39 hospice in my own city given the pressures they are under financially. They are being asked to do a lot more than normal with regard to community care and so on. The financial implications will have to be factored in later in the year and we will have to show flexibility.

I do not disagree with the sentiment of the amendment. If nurses or doctors who have qualified and have worked in the UK want to come to work in the Irish system, and they have a track record, they would be a very positive addition here. We should facilitate that as quickly as possible. I do not believe, however, that it needs to be included in this legislation. The Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, has said that he would speak to the regulators to try to ensure it can be done as quickly as possible, while also ensuring that the kind of people we are facilitating to come into the system have a history and a track record that is about protecting patients. They are very welcome here and we will try to facilitate that registration process as quickly as we can.


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