Publicly-funded fertility treatments are to be launched in Ireland this September, with up to 3,000 couples to benefit each year.

People will be entitled to one full cycle of IVF or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment.

The eligibility is limited, however, by the age of the parents, the female patient’s body mass index (BMI), the number of existing children and the number of previous IVF cycles accessed.

Patients with known clinical causes of infertility and patients where there is no known clinical cause will be eligible for treatment.

Treatment involving the use of donated gametes (sperm and eggs) will not be available in September for heterosexual or same-sex couples or single female patients.

“This treatment will become available as soon as possible,” the Department of Health said.

Donegal Senator Niall Blaney has praised the scheme, saying: “It represents a transformative step toward reproductive equality where the dream of parenthood becomes a reality for every aspiring parent, irrespective of their financial status.

“I understand that work is continuing on the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill which will allow Government to improve accessibility to AHR treatments, while at the same time embedding safe and appropriate clinical practice and ensuring the cost-effective use of public resources.

“I look forward this Bill progressing and ultimately seeing AHR services being expanded to wider categories so that we can help more people to fulfil their wish of starting a family.”

Meanwhile, Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has criticised the cut off criteria.

She told Morning Ireland that the cut-off age of 41 for the woman and the body mass index criteria were “rather crude cut off criteria”

“But I think what stands out most to me is the exclusion of those who have an unknown infertility or an unknown cause of infertility.

“We know that of the one in six couples who experience infertility in this country, about 25 per cent have an unknown cause.”

The treatments will be provided in HSE-approved private clinics ahead of the opening next year of the first public National Advanced AHR Centre.

Ms Sherlock said the government should have ensured that clinics are provided in public hospitals.

“This goes into the wider health debate about relying on private agencies and private clinics to deliver what are essentially public services. I’m certainly concerned, particularly because we still do not have the assisted human reproduction legislation that the Government have committed to, they started the legislative process at the start of last year and haven’t made any progress since then.

“There are a number of people who will be listening this morning, particularly women who would hope to either go it alone and would rely on donated sperm or indeed couples who rely on donated eggs that are excluded from the scheme to provide publicly funded IVF.

“We need to see that regulatory framework put in place that the Government have committed to, but haven’t yet delivered upon. And we need to ensure that all those wanting to seek publicly funded IVF actually get a chance of doing so.”