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A Department of An Taoiseach spokesperson told MI: “Minister [of State for Health Promotion] Catherine Byrne wrote to the Taoiseach stating her support for the establishment of an inter-agency committee to develop an action plan and the Taoiseach has indicated he would be supportive of the idea. The matter is due to be discussed further in September.”
Minister Byrne wrote to the Taoiseach on 6 July following a meeting with representatives from the national steering committee on FGM, which includes representatives of NGOs, the HSE and Department of Health. She stated that the representatives were asking the Government to provide funding for a network of community health workers and NGOs to work with communities affected by FGM and to establish a “Government-led inter-agency committee to develop a National Action Plan to address FGM”.
She informed the Taoiseach that “while it falls under social inclusion, and therefore under my remit, the Department of Health has had little direct involvement on this issue. I would, however, like the Department to take a more active role on FGM into the future”.
A Department of Health spokesperson told MI: “The Department of Health and the HSE have committed to working with the relevant Departments and with [migrant women’s network] AkiDwA to improve health outcomes for groups vulnerable to this form of gender-based violence. In this regard, the HSE intends to include FGM in its new Intercultural Health Strategy, due to be published before the end of the year.”
They added: “The HSE has funded and disseminated an FGM resource pack for health professionals and relevant staff in maternity and associated settings. The HSE also funds a specialist clinic operated by the Irish Family Planning Association for girls and women who have undergone FGM. Funding for AkiDwA has also been provided for awareness raising on the detrimental effects of FGM.”
Almost 6,000 women and girls living in Ireland are understood to have been subjected to FGM in their native countries. FGM is illegal in Ireland under the Criminal Justice (FGM) Act 2012, which also makes it an offence to remove a woman or girl from the State for the purposes of FGM.