Significant levels of viruses like Covid-19 anticipated in Ireland during autumn, Cabinet to be told

Some 27 new Bills will be prioritised for publication between now and the beginning of 2024

High levels of viruses, including Covid-19 and influenza, are expected in Ireland during the autumn and winter months, the Cabinet will hear on Tuesday.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will tell colleagues that a significant level of Covid 19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are expected to be in transmission among the community.

Mr Donnelly will brief colleagues on his department’s plans to deal with the anticipated spike in viruses. A vaccination programme will commence in the first week of October. with vaccines for Covid-19 and “flu” available. They will be co-administered to the cohorts of the population who are eligible for free vaccination.

The Minister will also tell the meeting that Ireland has also secured an adapted Pfizer vaccine, which will be administered as a booster to the eligible population.


The children’s flu vaccination programme is also scheduled to commence on October 9th.

The Department of Health has requested advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) in relation to the potential use of vaccines for RSV.

While wearing a face mask is no longer mandatory anybody wearing one will not be discouraged from doing so. In addition, public health experts will also advice on the importance of hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and staying at home when ill (regardless of any test results) with respiratory symptoms during the autumn campaign.

The chief medical officer, Dr Breda Smyth, will also meet representatives from other government departments to reiterate the need for adherence to optimum infection protection and control measures (including ventilation) that reflect the current public health advice.

There will be some testing and tracing, but it will focus on those who are the most vulnerable to the disease and those who may benefit from specific interventions.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is expected to inform the Government about a new administrative scheme to allow family members connected with the Tuam Mother and Baby Home to submit a DNA sample voluntarily in advance of the excavation and exhumation of the site. It is estimated that as many as 796 babies’ remains were buried at the site, which has now become a playground.

The Director of Authorised Intervention in Tuam will continue his engagement with those affected in advance of commencing collection of samples, Mr O’Gorman is expected to tell Cabinet.

The Government chief whip Hildegarde Naughton will also publish the Government’s programme of legislation once it is formally approved at the meeting of Ministers on Tuesday. The programme will prioritise some 27 Bills for publication during the autumn and winter term, including a Bill to provide for a constitutional referendum to repeal the references to women in the home and insert new language on care and gender equality.

The referendum was originally scheduled to take place in November but has been beset by delays because of difficulties over definitions and wording. Over the weekend Mr O’Gorman said the referendum would now take place in early 2024. Nonetheless, it is expected the Bill can be published this term, possibly close to Christmas.

The Government is also expected to give the go-ahead for a further 23 Bills to be drafted.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times