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Measles outbreak among unvaccinated probable

The probability of an outbreak of measles among unvaccinated groups in Ireland is high, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will tell Cabinet colleagues.

It follows a risk assessment carried out by the Health Service Executive last month.

There has been an increasing number of measles cases in both EU countries and in England recently,.

There were four cases in Ireland last year which were linked to travel to countries where outbreaks are ongoing.

However, it is increasingly likely that measles could be introduced and transmitted in Ireland, the Cabinet will hear.

The only protection against measles is the MMR vaccination, but its uptake in Ireland has been below 90% for almost two years. The World Health Organization has a recommended target of 95%.

A recent Irish study has also estimated that more than one-in-ten (11%) adults aged 18-34 are non-immune to measles. It is nearly one-in-five (18%) for males aged 18-19 years.

This is likely due to parental decisions not to vaccinate their children when they were young following erroneous claims linking the vaccine to autism, Mr Donnelly will tell Government ministers.

The HSE is now testing its regional response plans in the event of measles cases being detected.

A vaccine catch-up programme for Leaving Cert and higher education students is also being examined.

A targeted approach for counties with a low vaccine uptake is being drawn up too.

Laws for gardaí to tackle online crime

Separately, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will seek Cabinet approval to draft new legislation to help gardaí tackle online crime.

The Criminal Justice (Protection, Preservation and Access to Data on Information Systems) Bill 2024 will ensure gardaí have swift access to criminal evidence which is in digital form.

Traditional search and seize laws target physical spaces and objects and predate the technological evolution seen in recent years.

Given the amount of criminal activity, which is now taking place in virtual space, this new Bill will allow gardaí to access online evidence easily while ensuring individuals’ privacy rights are respected.

Under the legislation, gardaí can apply for preservation and production orders to be served on internet service providers.

That will oblige them to preserve and produce digital evidence held on their systems.

Approval sought for more sites to LDA

Elsewhere, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will request Government approval to transfer nine more sites to the Land Development Agency.

It is thought that more than 3,000 homes could be built on these lands over a medium to long-term period.

The nine sites include:

1. Full Transfer of Land at Bluebell, Dublin City

2. Partial Transfer of Land at Carrickmines Little (Horse Racing Ireland)

3. Full Transfer of Land at Bolton Street Car Park, Waterford

4. Full Transfer of Land at Waterside Car Park, Waterford

5. Partial Transfer of Land at Galway Harbour

6. Full Transfer of Land at Rosbrien Road, Limerick

7. Partial Transfer of Land at St Otteran’s Hospital, Waterford

8. Full Transfer of Land at Model Farm Road, Cork

9. Full Transfer of Land at Sandyford (Central Bank of Ireland)

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