Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
470. To ask the Minister for Health the discussions there have been with the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland on the development of tracing apps that would be compatible on all of the island of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10476/20]
As the Deputy will know a Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 7 April. The MOU was entered into on my behalf as Minister for Health and on behalf of the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland to strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have been in ongoing contact with the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses, including Covid-19 testing and contact tracing. In addition, there has been significant engagement between the CMOs, and officials in both jurisdictions. Both jurisdictions recognise the potential for contact tracing apps to complement manual contact tracing operations and there have been ongoing technical discussions on tracing apps, including examining the issue of interoperability.
Discussions have and will continue to take place on respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions, given the importance of implementing consistent approaches, wherever possible. All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements. The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers.