Minister Simon Harris

  • 14 new patients in the east of the country have died from coronavirus.

    The Health Protection Surveillance Team says there are also 294 new cases of Covid-19 in the Republic.

    The latest deaths bring to 36 the number of people who've died here, while the number of people with coronavirus has reached 2,415.

    Health Minister Simon Harris says extra staff have been hired in the health service to tackle the crisis.


    The Health Minister says he expects legislation to allow for abortion in Ireland to pass through the Dail tonight.

    Debate on the bill resumed  this afternoon and looks likely to continue for up to seven hours.

    It's expected the legislation will then move on to the Seanad tomorrow or early next week.

    Minister Simon Harris says he's confident services will be available in next month.




  • The Health Minister says further restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19 will be announced this afternoon.

    The National Public Health Emergency Team met this morning and has made a series of recommendations.

    Cabinet Ministers are currently meeting to discuss the advice, which is likely to impact on travel and social activity.

    Speaking on the way into Government Buildings, Minister Simon Harris says there will also be an update on existing measures, including schools.

  • Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers says women both sides of the border should have equal access to abortion services.

    The Health Minister Simon Harris has said that women in the North will be able to access abortion services here.

    Speaking in Belfast yesterday Simon Harris says services will be available to all women on the island of Ireland once the legislation is introduced.

    Unlike the rest of the UK, abortion remains illegal in the north unless the women's life is at risk or there is a serious danger to her mental or physical health.

    Deputy Chambers insists there should be equal access to abortion services north and south.


  • The flu vaccine is being made available free of charge for children aged 2 to 12 years of age.

    Health Minister Simon Harris has also announced that at-risk groups, aged from 6 months to 69 years can also get the vaccine free of charge.

    Minister Harris says a resurgence of Covid-19 during the coming flu season could present a challenge for healthcare services, so his Department officials are working with the HSE to expand the seasonal flu vaccination programme for next Winter.

    The Minister says flu is a potentially fatal illness, and he wants to ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities are protected.

    Sligo-Leitrim FG TD Frank Feighan has welcomed the expansion of the flu vaccination programme....

  • The Minister for Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has confirmed the opening of four retrofitting centres of excellence.

    The centres will open in Limerick & Clare ETB, Mayo Sligo & Leitrim ETB, Cork ETB and Laois & Offaly ETB within the next four months.

    Retrofitting involves making homes more energy efficient and helping to save money on electricity bills.

    Minister Harris says 2,000 people who currently work in Construction will be trained in retrofit skills for the centres.

  • The Minister for Health is being asked to intervene in the case of a Co Roscommon boy with autism, who may have to wait four years to avail of services.

    Roscommon-Galway Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy says the 7-year old boy from north Roscommon is currently in 193rd place on a waiting list for the autism service at the Primary Care Centre in Athenry, and it could be up to four years before he receives treatment.

    Deputy Murphy is calling on Minister Simon Harris to intervene on this boy's behalf, describing the waiting time as "cruel and shameful"

  • The Minister for Health Simon Harris was in Boyle this morning to officially open the new Primary Care Centre.

    It's almost two years since the Minister turned the sod on the project in Boyle, and the primary care centre has been open for the past 6 months providing health services for a population of some 9,000 people in the town and surrounding areas.

    Local FG Senator Frank Feighan welcomed the Minister to Boyle and also said he's looking forward to an announcement shortly on the design team for the Medical Rehabilitation Unit planned for Roscommon County Hospital.




  • The Minister for Health Simon Harris has said "more restrictions", including the potential widespread closure of schools, may be needed if Ireland is to successfully overcome the coronavirus outbreak.

    Speaking on national media, Minister Harris said any new restrictions need to be "introduced at the right time" to ensure they have the best effect, and he warned that we are going to see a lot more cases here.

    His comments came after the biggest daily jump in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, with the confirmation of ten new cases yesterday - including a male and a female in the west of Ireland, both associated with close contact with a confirmed case.

    The minister defended the Government's decision not to ban travel to this country from affected areas, or close schools to date, but said there may be a time when schools are closed, but in the meantime, people should take the necessary precautions to look after themselves, their familes and their communities . 

    The Department of Education says it's continuing to review the situation with public health officials on a daily basis - due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

    Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland says it believes visitor restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID 19 are responsible.

    It's after the Department of Health said the measures were not necessary at this moment in time.

    Some nursing homes have limited the times and number of visitors residents can have, and have put bans on children coming to visit.

    Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan says there's no need for the restrictions. 

  • The Minister for Health Simon Harris is due to visit the Co Roscommon town of Boyle next Monday to officially open the new Primary Care Centre.

    The facility has been open to the public for over 6 months, providing health services to a population of about 9,000 people in Boyle and the surrounding area.

    Roscommon-based FG Senator Frank Feighan says the Health Minister has now confirmed that he will perform the official opening of the Boyle Primary Care Centre on Monday morning 3rd Sept at 11am.





  • The Minister for Health Simon Harris will visit Galway today to officially open a new €35 million human biology building at NUI Galway.

    The facility will be used to teach and train medical students, as well as for research into a range of health issues.

    The five-storey building will be the main location for undergraduate and postgraduate medical teaching, while science, biomedical science and engineering students will also study there.

    In addition, the building will also be the location for cutting-edge scientific and medical research by academics from across the campus.

    The new building was funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and NUI Galway with support from the European Investment Bank.



  • The Minister for Health Simon Harris has warned that allowing complacency to set in, in efforts to combat Covid-19, could be disastrous and potentially fatal.

    Minister Harris is appealing to the general public to continue adhering to the restrictions, amid encouraging signs that the situation in Ireland is stabilising.

    Hospital admissions fell for the third day in a row yesterday and ICU admissions remain relatively stable.

    However, latest figures show 610 people have now died in the Republic from Covid 19, while there are more than 15 thousand confirmed cases.
    39 people with the virus died yesterday, 2 of those deaths were in the west.

    The number of confirmed cases of the virus in Mayo now stands at 312, in Galway there are 283 cases, and 76 confirmed cases in both Sligo and Roscommon.

  • Hospital car parking charges could be capped at ten euro a day.

    The move is being considered by the Health Minister Simon Harris.

    Under the plans, discounted multi-day passes would also have to be introduced for relatives, guardians and friends who frequently visit patients in long term care.

    The Sunday Independent reports the abolition of car parking fees has been ruled out though.

  • Laws to make abortion legal will be approved by the cabinet this morning.

    The Health Minister will also set out a timeline to have the new laws in place by January 1st.


    More than four months after the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to repeal the 8th amendment the laws allowing abortion to take place will be approved by Ministers today.

    The proposals will allow for abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and in limited circumstances after that.

    Minister Simon Harris will say the government is committed to providing abortions for free when the service comes in.

    He also wants to bring in safe access zones around areas where women access terminations to prevent them from being harassed or intimidated when going for an abortion.

    Despite concerns from doctors Simon Harris believes the new service can be in place by January 1st.

    The legislation will be introduced into the Oireachtas next week.



  • The €10m Mayo Roscommon Hospice facility in Castlebar hopes to take in patients by Spring 2020.


    The Minister for Health Simon Harris officially opened the facility this afternoon in front of a crowd of around 1000 people.


    The Department of Health has secured funding for the running costs of the new facility in Budget 2020.


    Recruitment for the new Pallative Care Centre in Mayo is now underway.

    The state of the art unit was completed in 18 months and boasts 14 specialist palliative care bedrooms, a day care department and family accommodation.


    Martina Jennings CEO of the Mayo Roscommon Hospice says the new facility is a tribute to the people of both represented counties.


    She acknowledged that the construction of the Castlebar Pallative Care Centre was only made possible through donations by people in Mayo and Roscommon.


    Chairperson of the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Joanne Hynes was delighted to see the fruits of their twenty five years of fundraising efforts.


    She paid homage to generous sponsor over the years to get them to the important €10m threshold.


    She told Midwest news that she was delighted to see the culmination of the Hospice's fundraising efforts.


    Former CEO of the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Cynthia Clampett described the opening of the new unit as magical.


    She praised the work of her former colleagues in getting the Unit finished ahead of schedule and under budget.

  • The Minister for Health is being urged to make a decision sooner rather than later on providing access to a drug, which is used to treat advanced Parkinson's Disease.

    Mayo Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh says certain patients were receiving Duodopa through an access programme provided by the company which manufactures the medicine, but that route is no longer available to patients.

    Senator Conway-Walsh says Duodopa is available to patients in Britain, and should also be provided here.

    She's calling on the Health Minister Simon Harris to at last make it known when he intends to make a final decision on it.

  • A deputation from Castlerea were planning to travel to Dublin later today to meet with the Health Minister Simon Harris and the Minister for Mental Health Jim Daly, in relation to the future of the Rosalie unit in Castlerea.

    However, Minister Daly has requested that the meeting be postponed, due to diary issues.

    It’s now been rescheduled for three weeks time -Wed 28th March.

    There are major concerns about the future of the home, which accommodates 13 elderly people with Alzheimers and dementia, after the HSE said the facility is not part of its long-term plans.

    No new admissions have been taken into the home for the past year and a half.

    However, a campaign is underway locally to retain the Rosalie unit, with thousands of people signing a petition to that effect.


  • The Minister for Health Simon Harris says he expects to be advised tomorrow to keep the significant restrictions, to slow the spread of the coronavirus, in place for a period of weeks.

    The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again tomorrow, and Minister Harris says he expects they will recommend that we continue with the very strict restrictions, and said he expects that to be for a period of weeks.

    The death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 235 yes, after a further 25 people were confirmed to have lost their lives in this country yesterday - including two deaths in the West.

    365 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed yesterday bringing the national total to over 6,000.

    In Mayo, there are now 130 confirmed cases, with 134 in Galway, 28 in Sligo and 22 in Roscommon.

    The European Centre for Disease Control says it's too early for countries to start lifting community and physical distancing measures.


  • Another 1,500 women who've developed cancer may have to have their smear tests audited.

    Health Minister Simon Harris told the Dáil the number of women who've developed cancer and haven't had their smear tests rechecked may be double the amount originally thought.

    Many were cases of people who weren't examined by CervicalCheck, which was why they were not included in the initial figures.

    Minister Harris says they're still trying to establish the number of women affected:

  • Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has announced a package of health and well-being supports for former residents of Tuam’s Mother and Baby Homes, and related institutions.
    The measures being announced today are based on the recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Working Group, established earlier this year.
    The package of supports will include the provision of additional counselling services to help support the needs of former residents, the introduction of a dedicated patient advocacy liaison service for former residents and the commencement of a targeted health research study, which will assist in the development of any future service responses which may be required.
    Minister Harris says he’s confident that the range of service supports now being provided will be of considerable benefit to former residents of Mother and Baby homes and will directly assist, in a practical way, the individual health needs of former residents.”