The State is to assume responsibility for the cost of removing PIP breast implants from Irish women, if this is deemed clinically necessary.

The Department of Health claims that the Harley Medical Group has failed to provide an appropriate care package to the women affected and has not fulfilled its obligations in an acceptable manner.

Around 1,100 women had a PIP implant with the Harley Group.

The Department has said the State will provide care through the National Treatment Purchase Fund and this will involve surgical consultation, radiology and removal of implants if this is deemed clinically necessary.

The support group for Irish women who received the implants said they were shocked at the announcement and had hoped the Harley Medical Group would cover the cost.

But they said they were relieved that the women would now be looked after.

PIP implants were carried out at three private clinics here; the Clane Hospital in Kildare, Shandon Street Hospital in Cork and the Harley Medical Group.

In May, the Department of Health said the two other providers were ensuring that women affected are receiving professional and appropriate aftercare but some issues remained with the Harley Group.

The French-made PIP implants, with unapproved industrial grade silicone gel, were used on around 1,500 Irish women.

The Department of Health said there was no evidence of increased risk of cancer for women with the implant.

The implants were used mainly between 2001 and 2010 but some may have been implanted before 2001.

In response to the Department's announcement, a spokesperson on behalf of The Harley Medical Group said "no comment".

The Department of Health has also said that, following concerns about the safety and quality of surgical cosmetic procedures here and abroad, it has produced a new guide for the public with the help of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons.