A Portmarnock couple who are in Ukraine have welcomed news that Irish citizens travelling abroad for surrogacy will be exempt from hotel quarantine when they return to Ireland.
The Minister for Health has issued a letter to Mark Hedderman and Sinead Gallagher-Hedderman, which says they will be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine on their return, subject to new regulations.
Sinead told RTE: 'I feel so happy that no one will go through the week we have gone through,' she said.
Earlier, the High Court was told that the Minister for Health said it was his 'firm intention' to make regulations tonight to allow people who have travelled to designated states for surrogacy to be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine.
The court heard Stephen Donnelly had issued a letter to the Hedderman family to ensure that they would be allowed to board flights to Dublin.
For the Portmarnock couple, it had been two weeks of not knowing whether they would have to quarantine in Dublin on return from Kiev, in care of a newborn baby.
Sinead and Mark spoke on Today FM last week and explained the family's situation at that time.
Sinead said: 'We're facing coming off an airplane and being escorted by an army to a hotel room where we don't actually have supplies for the baby. So our situation over here in Kiev is that we're provided with a steriliser and all the baby equipment, so it's not on us to bring all the stuff with us, so we wouldn't have a steriliser for a hotel room, I've only brought enough formula to last us for our duration here.
'He was a big baby born, so I brought a mixture of clothing but he's quickly outgrown the smaller sizes and by next week I won't have enough clothes for him, when we return.'
Sinead said the couple weren't aware there was mandatory quarantine in the Ukraine when they went over for Theo's birth: 'When we were leaving Ireland we had no idea that this was going to actually come into effect, so we wouldn't have had the provisions saved up for entering mandatory hotel quarantine. We don't have the supplies for the hotel so it's come as a complete shock to us, a week after he was born.'
It was a local TD who offered the Portmarnock couple some hope, as Sinead explained: 'I've been in regular contact with Darragh O'Brien, the Minister for Housing, and he's been a massive support to us. I had concerns even leaving whether we'd be questioned in the airport for the reasons that we were leaving but he got on and sent me on the relevant documentation to present, as well as Annette Hickey, our solicitor.
'So I contacted him obviously when the Ukraine was added to the list again and he has actually spoken in person to Simon Coveney and Stephen Donnelly and brought our issue because he's our local TD. I also received further correspondence where he's actually written directly to Simon Coveney to seek clarification on us being exempt because of our circumstances.'
Speaking to the Fingal Indepencent about the couple's situation, Minister O'Brien said: 'Basically we ensured that the authorities were able to take a humanitarian view and a pragmatic view of their situation, and I'm glad that that happened.
'Mandatory hotel quarantine is obviously there as a short-term measure to protect the country from new variants but it also needs to have a humanitarian side to it where individual cases can be looked at and that's why with Sinead and Mark and their new son I was happy to help in any way I could, and from the Taoiseach down actually on that.
'It's a great time for them that they've a new baby and I'm delighted it's resolved and resolved to their satisfaction and that they can come home. They'll have to restrict their movements at home but it's a great time for them, so I was happy to help where I could.'
It is understood the couple will now be allowed serve out their quarantine at their Portmarnock home on their return to Ireland.