With the end of the Brexit transition less than 50 days away, preparations are in full swing to ensure Ireland is as protected as possible from the impact of the UK leaving the EU, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Neale Richmond, Fine Gael’s spokesman on European Union Affairs, said preparations are being made in in the vital area of access to healthcare and medicines, which will be uninterrupted come January.
Deputy Richmond said: “January will bring huge changes to Ireland and Irish businesses. All Government departments and agencies have worked steadily for over four years to prepare for the forthcoming changes.
“Whether or not a trade deal is agreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom, significant changes will arise.
“Huge efforts have been made to ensure that there is no interruption to the supply of medicines to Ireland come January.
“I have received assurances from the Minister for Health via a Parliamentary Question that together with the Health Service Executive, the Health Products Regulatory Authority and supply chain stakeholders, a comprehensive and coordinated set of preparations have been established to ensure continuity of health services and the supply of medicines no matter what form Brexit takes.
“Engagements are ongoing with drug manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that they are ready for January and that any potential supply chain issues have solutions.
“Manufacturers are confident that any initial issues at ports will not cause shortages as sufficient stocks have been maintained. Ireland maintains a much larger medicines stockpile than the UK for example.
“The supply of medicines will continue to be monitored in Ireland, with supply chains adapted where necessary and disruptions minimised.
“The Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union Bill that was before the Dáil this week also ensures that healthcare co-operation between Ireland and the UK will be maintained come January, provided for under a memorandum of understanding that is currently being finalised.
“Additionally, the Bill ensures that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland can seek reimbursement for the cost of necessary healthcare while staying in another EU or EEA Member State or Switzerland from January 1st.
“Change is coming to Ireland in a matter of days, but efforts by Minister Coveney and the Government have ensured that we are as protected as we can be from Brexit.”