Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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719. To ask the Minister for Health the steps he has taken to ensure that reopening of all sectors happen in tandem on an all-Ireland basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6046/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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On the island of Ireland, coordination between the two jurisdictions can make a significant contribution to the management of COVID-19. Close cooperation and, where possible, alignment of public health advice and policy decisions can contribute to more effective management and containment of the virus. In recent weeks, each jurisdiction has published its plan for the unwinding of social distancing measures and it is most welcome that there is significant common ground between the two documents.

There is ongoing, close engagement with the Northern Ireland authorities in a variety of forums, at both political and official level, both on a North-South basis and as part of broader engagement with the United Kingdom.

The health administrations on both parts of the island have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding on Public Health Cooperation on COVID-19, which provides a framework for close consultation, coordination and cooperation. There are regular meetings on COVID-19 at political level, involving the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the First Minister and deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland. These meetings can also include the Health Ministers and Chief Medical Officers from Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This close coordination will continue, and intensify, over the coming weeks as we each move to reopen business and society.

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