Sinn Féin Seanad Leader, Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile, has welcomed the “serious commitment” from Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, that the Irish Government would put in place a system “as streamline as we can make it” for all the people from the north in need of insurance cover, in the form of the ‘European Health Insurance Card’, when travelling in the EU.
Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile has raised the future of the EHIC card insurance several times with the Minister and he was particularly concerned to have clarity on the practical steps the Minister intended on taking in order to ensure people from the North will be covered in the event of needing health insurance while abroad.
Speaking after his ‘Commencement Matter’ was debated in the Seanad this morning, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:
“This morning Minister Coveney outlined that he hoped the current negotiations between the British government and the EU would resolve the issue of EHIC, but if they did not then the Irish government was willing to step in and cover the costs of EHIC with a ‘simple to administer’ system for those in need of insurance cover when abroad.
“It was very important that the Minister provided clarity with respect to the EHIC card because of the widespread confusion caused by Britain leaving the EU, coupled with the pressure people were under with the impact of the Covid19 pandemic.
“Both the Irish and British governments have made commitments to Sinn Féin in recent months that this issue will be dealt with.
“However we are now less than 60 days to the end of the Brexit transition period and there is still no deal on the table; and no concrete delivery on any of these promises so far.
“Citizens in the north require legal guarantees that this will be in place for the 1st January 2021.
“The people of the North voted to reject Brexit. It is crucial that we see movement beyond promises to retain our EU rights and entitlements to now seeing action and workable plans that ensure we do not lose out as a result of Britain’s reckless pursuit of Brexit.”