Mary Coughlan, the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs has said she is willing to appoint an independent arbitrator to seek a solution to the Government’s dispute with dentists.
Ms Coughlan also apologised for leaving around 1.8 million Irish workers without dental cover because of the dispute, but insisted that she will refuse to allow dentists to seek further increases from patients.
"It’s incumbent on me to ensure that if people are of the opinion, through a contract, that they do not have to pay additional money over and above what the PRSI system is paying for them, then it is my duty to ensure that that happens," she said.
The Irish Dental Association, meanwhile, has said it hopes to enter talks with the Government as soon as possible to try to resolve the dispute.
Spokesman Donal Atkins said his organisation has contacted the minister, but he insisted that the Government is at fault for the current situation.
"Fundamentally, the scheme has been collapsed by the department and we have to advise our members now that they’re not going to get paid for work done after last Friday, which we were unaware of until journalists told us so late last night," he said.