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Varadkar apologises to those who have had a 'bad experience' with the Digital Covid Cert helpline

The Tánaiste also said 17,000 certs have been reissued after an “error” with the fada in peoples’ names.

Image: Leah Farrell

Updated Jul 22nd 2021, 4:58 PM

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has apologised on behalf of the government to those who have had a bad experience with the Digital Covid Cert (DCC) helpline.

He has also said 17,000 certs have been reissued after an “error” with including the fada in peoples’ names. 

After widely reported issues with Ireland’s DCC helpline on Monday, additional resources were put in place, but many people have still been reporting issues getting through. 

A second freephone number was then established to deal with “urgent queries only”. 

“My apologies on behalf of the government to anyone who’s had a bad experience with the helpline, and based on what’s coming through my constituency office and my colleagues, a lot of people have,” said Varadkar.

The Tánaiste said the helpline is being expanded so that 90 people will be manning calls.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, the Tánaiste said at the moment people should only ring the helpline over issues like incorrectly spelled names or wrong dates of birth. 

He said an issue around the fadas on peoples’ names is being dealt with. 

“17,000 certificates have been reissued because of an error with the fada which shouldn’t have happened, but did and that’s now been rectified,” Varadkar said. 

“So you don’t need to ring the helpline about that, but in a couple of days, if you haven’t received your revised certificate, you will.”

His apology comes two days after The Journal reported that a number of Irish holidaymakers who arrived in Malta were told they must complete mandatory quarantine due to entry requirements into the Mediterranean country. 

Some travellers did not receive their DCC before heading abroad but travelled anyway due to assurances from government ministers that HSE vaccination cards would be sufficient proof.

Passengers caught up in the controversy reported having difficulties getting through to the helpline.

The DCC is a standardised EU system which allows people to travel across member states without quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months or recently tested negative. 

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People who are fully vaccinated should get their cert without requesting one, either by post or by email, but people who are entitled to one after recovering from the virus are being asked to contact the call centre to secure one.

The call centre is also being used for people who are entitled to a DCC through vaccination but have not yet received one.

Varadkar said today that the helpline was always going to run into difficulties as many of the people manning the phone lines are dealing with queries about the DCC, which is a newly established system, for the first time.

The system will “get faster and will improve over the next couple of days”, he added.

He reminded people that the helpline is about the DCC.

“It’s not a helpline that you ring for travel advice about other countries. You don’t ring in about advice about indoor dining, it’s for the Digital Covid Cert. There’s lots of other sources of information.”

Additional reporting by Orla Dwyer

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