An Irish couple who are in Ukraine have welcomed news that Irish citizens travelling abroad for surrogacy will be exempt from hotel quarantine when they return to Ireland.

The Minister for Health has issued a letter to Mark Hedderman and Sinead Gallagher-Hedderman, which outlines that they will be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine on their return, subject to new regulations which Minister Donnelly said would be completed tonight.

In an interview with RTÉ News, the couple, who had a baby boy through surrogacy 11 days ago, welcomed the development after what they said had been a difficult week.

Ukraine was added to the Mandatory Hotel Quarantine list in Ireland while the Heddermans were in Kiev following the birth of their son.

They sought an exemption to enable them to bring baby Theo straight to their home to quarantine on their arrival in Dublin.

Mr Hedderman described the past week as long and stressful, but he said they were relieved it was behind them.

The Heddermans said the support they received from the general public had been "phenomenal".

They thanked those who contacted them directly and indirectly to offer their support.

"It really means a lot", said Mr Hedderman.

Speaking to RTÉ News earlier this week, Ms Gallagher-Hedderman said they chose to speak publicly because they knew other parents having their babies through surrogacy would go through the same situation.

Tonight, she welcomed the clarity.

"I feel so happy that no one will go through the week we have gone through," she said.

"It kind of makes it feel worthwhile, what we've gone through, to see what we've achieved for other couples as well."

The couple said they were most looking forward to bringing their son home and starting their life as a family.

They have also asked for privacy on their return to Ireland.

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Earlier, the High Court was told that the Minister for Health said it was his "firm intention" to make regulations tonight to allow people who have travelled to designated states for surrogacy to be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine.

The court heard Stephen Donnelly had issued a letter to the Hedderman family to ensure that they would be allowed to board flights to Dublin.

The family took legal action after becoming concerned that they would not be able to board their flights to Dublin tomorrow without pre-booked hotel quarantine.

They were also concerned about bringing a newborn baby to a quarantine hotel.

This morning, lawyers for the minister said regulations were being drafted to exempt people who had travelled for surrogacy from having to quarantine in a hotel when they return.

They will still have to quarantine at home.

Additional reporting Orla O'Donnell


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