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Government finalising guidelines for tattooing and body piercing in Ireland

Currently there are no basic training requirements for staff and no age of consent required.

Image: Shutterstock/Semmick Photo

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has ruled out any new law to regulate the tattooing and body piercing industry in Ireland.

Proposed legislation was introduced in the Dáil last year by Fianna Fáil’s public health spokesperson Mary Butler to ban tattoos and intimate piercings for people under the age of 18.

With the Bill currently only at second stage, Harris has confirmed that no plans are afoot to  introduce further regulation or legislation in the area of tattooing and body piercing.

In a recent answer to a parliamentary question the minister added that there is no licensing or regulation of the tattooing or body piercing industries in Ireland. 

In the absence of any statutory framework being in place, Harris said his department and the Health Service Executive are working together to develop guidelines in relation to tattooing and body piercing businesses. 

These guidelines are currently in the process of being finalised, he said.

The minister said it is anticipated that the publication of the guidance document “will promote and enhance evidence based best practice in hygiene standards and infection control”.

He said discussions will be held shortly with the HSE in relation to the publication, dissemination and support following publication of the guidance document.

“Given the absence of a clear statutory framework and the need to obtain expert views in relation to the area, some delays arose in relation to finalising the final text of the guidelines – however, it is expected that they will be published shortly,” he added.

Long delays 

The issuing of guidelines was first discussed as far back as 2014, when the then health minister James Reilly said an ongoing review by the Department of Health on a set of guidelines was being drawn up.

In 2015, it was then announced that a consultation process was beginning with submissions to be published in 2016. 

But three years on, there has been little or no movement. 

The HSE states clearly on its website that no regulation of such businesses in Ireland.

“There are no registration requirements, no minimum structural or operational standards to be attained before opening such a business, no basic training requirements for staff and no age of consent/ medical history requirements for those availing of such services.

“Consequently these premises are not included in any inspection programme by Environmental Health Officers and receive no regular or routine visits from any statutory inspectorate.”

The HSE states that the while there is no specific legislation governing the sector, Environmental Health Officers do follow-up and investigate confirmed cases of infectious disease linked to such businesses.

Harris said that once the guidance document is published, it will set out a standard of practice in relation to infection prevention and control which the minister said all operators should adhere to.

“This will help to drive up standards and provide a safe environment for clients and practitioners,” he added. 

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