Wednesday 23 October 2019

EU health benefits retained in no-deal proposals

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Cormac McQuinn and Shawn Pogatchnik

Residents of Northern Ireland will continue to have access to healthcare in other EU countries in the case of a no-deal Brexit under plans to be brought to Cabinet today.

Ministers will also discuss plans to allow British people who move to Ireland to avail of the new National Childcare Scheme (NCS). Sources said the Government aims to get the necessary legislation passed and made law by the Brexit deadline of October 31 or, failing that, before the end of the Dáil term at Christmas.

Health Minister Simon Harris and Children's Minister Katherine Zappone are expected to bring a joint memo on the legislation to Cabinet today.

The new law will ensure that Northern Ireland residents retain access to health benefits in other EU member states equivalent to those currently available with the European Heath Insurance Card.

There is an amendment in the same legislation being brought forward by Ms Zappone to ensure that British residents who move to Ireland will not be at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the NCS which is due to be launched this year.

Meanwhile, Mr Harris said that trying to understand Brexiteers would cause him "pain and angst" after one MP alleged Ireland would face medicine shortages in a no-deal Brexit.

Conservative MP Nigel Evans told LBC Radio that while speaking with UK Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay about planning for no deal, Ireland could face scarcities for certain drugs.

During a conversation about medicine shortages in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Evans alleged Mr Barclay told him: "Two-thirds of the medicines Ireland gets come through the UK.

"If there are shortages in the UK, there'll be shortages in Ireland."

Mr Harris denounced the statement as untrue, and says he is at a loss as to why the MP would say it publicly.

"For me to try and get inside the mind of any Brexiteer would cause me a lot of pain and angst, so I don't intend to do that," Mr Harris said.

Irish Independent

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