Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Manufacturing Sector

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
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630. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if consideration has been given to State sponsored manufacturing of protective face masks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6643/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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My Department continues to engage with its enterprise agencies, other Departments, public health officials, other enterprise development agencies and bodies and companies to increase the supply of a whole range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

To date the following actions have been undertaken:

- Enterprise Ireland has connected both client and non-client Irish companies with capability to produce hand sanitizer and other types of PPE, including face masks, with the HSE.

- Enterprise Ireland’s Global Sourcing and Public Sector Procurement staff, in conjunction with IDA Ireland and industry contacts, are working to identify where companies have capability to produce hand sanitizer and other types of PPE or which could source them through their networks.  Company lists are being produced and shared with the HSE, where appropriate.

- Ireland has world-class researchers in our Higher Education Institutions and a diverse range of innovative companies, both indigenous and multinational, that can quickly pivot to deliver projects, treatments and interventions as needed.  Research teams within the Higher Education Institutes, including Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres and other SFI supported research teams, have joined the effort to respond to local and national demand for PPE by producing face shields and other equipment for frontline staff.  This work is being carried out on an ongoing basis.

As part of this work, a number of injection moulding companies have been approached with regard to face shield manufacture.  Two Irish companies are producing face shields for the HSE and a number of Irish companies are now setting up production for masks to add to those already manufactured in Ireland or being sourced from overseas.

Other results emerging from this work are:

- A number of companies were identified as having potential capability and capacity to switch production to hand sanitizers.  Irish companies are now meeting all HSE Hand Sanitizer requirements.

- A number of Irish companies are now making gowns and aprons for HSE.

- Assistance has been given to all manufacturers in sourcing the raw materials and packaging for the production of hand sanitizer and PPE.

- Some distilleries have made available ethanol for hand sanitizer production for free and at low cost.

- EI and IDA Clients and other companies have activated their supply network in China with a focus on face masks and gowns.  Gloves have been sourced by two EI clients and from an agent based here.

- Another EI client has manufactured reagent for testing and supplied it to the HSE.

- Many Irish companies have been introduced to the HSE with COVID-19 related solutions in patient monitoring, disinfecting devices, testing and temperature detection and many other areas.

I can assure the Deputy that the Government will continue to work with all enterprises to ensure the supply of PPE to our front line workers.

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