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Covid-19 committee to invite CMO Tony Holohan and HSE boss Paul Reid to appear next week

Nursing home care during the pandemic will be a key focus of the committee.

The first meeting of the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee was held today.
The first meeting of the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee was held today.

Updated May 12th 2020, 4:50 PM

THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE on the Covid-19 has agreed to invite the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and HSE boss Paul Reid to appear next Tuesday.

The committee, which met for the first time today in the Dáil chamber today, agreed to hold two sessions next week where the Department of Health Secretary General Jim Breslin will also be asked to attend.

Next week there will also be a focus on the reopening of the construction sector.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) as well as the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and workers union Ictu will also be asked to attend.
The 19-member committee will focus on nursing homes the week after next.

Independent TD Michael McNamara was today elected chairman of the new Oireachtas committee.

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty nominated his party colleague David Cullinane to be chairman, while Green Party TD Ossian Smyth nominated Michael McNamara.

Doherty told the committee: “I want to, on behalf of the Sinn Fein party, nominate David Cullinane as chairperson of this committee.

“I think David has the skills to assist this committee in its important work over the next period.

“He has served many committees in this House, including the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and he brings the skills that is necessary, in my view, to support the committee’s work.”

Cullinane, however, lost the vote with 12 voting against, six voting in favour and one TD abstained.

The new committee will look at how authorities and agencies have responded to the pandemic and take evidence on the state’s response.

There was no public session held today despite expectations that there would be time for public discussion.

The mood of the meeting was described by one TD as “not good” with another describing the three-hour session behind closed doors as “torture”.

The special 19-member Oireachtas committee includes TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as well as a number of other parties and independents.

The 19 members on the new committee are:

Fine Gael’s Colm Brophy, Colm Burke, Fergus O’Dowd and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill. Fianna Fáil seats have gone to Mary Butler, Stephen Donnelly, Norma Foley and John McGuinness. Sinn Fein is represented on the committee by David Cullinane, Louise O’Reilly, Matt Carty and Pearse Doherty.

Independents on the committee include TDs Michael Collins, Michael McNamara and Matt Shanahan. Róisín Shortall takes a seat for the Social Democrats, while Bríd Smith takes a seat for Solidarity-People Before Profit. Duncan Smith has a seat for the Labour Party and Ossian Smyth represents the Green Party.

With reporting by Press Association

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