We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo

Covid inquiry: Taoiseach doesn't see key decision-makers being grilled in witness box

Details of what form the inquiry will take will be ready in a couple of weeks, says Micheál Martin.

DETAILS OF WHAT form the Government’s inquiry will take into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will be released in the coming weeks, the Taoiseach has confirmed. 

Micheál Martin has said he does not envisage key players and decision-makers such as the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan or HSE boss Paul Reid being grilled in a witness box in Dublin Castle, as has been the format for some past inquiries and tribunals.

“I don’t see it in that light, as I’ve said consistently, because when a crisis, a once in 100 year event happens, like a pandemic, mistakes will get made.

“The important thing is to learn from them and particularly in relation to public servants because they’re in the lions den from the beginning, they’re in the kitchen very much from the beginning. The heat is on, in terms of 24 hour reactions and so forth, and dealing with a crisis of this kind.

“So I don’t want people in the future looking over their shoulders, as we deal with another crisis, saying ‘there’s an inquiry behind my back and I’ve got to watch my Ps and Qs here’ or make decisions based on what people might ask me later. You have to make a right call at the time based on your judgment, and based on the advices that you receive,” said Martin.

The Taoiseach said his officials have been working on detailed proposals for the inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic, and has been working in conjunction with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. 

He said a “comprehensive evaluation of how we dealt with Covid-19 in all aspects” is needed, and that it should cover government administration, public health and other areas. 

More details would be revealed in the “coming weeks”, he added.

“It is important and we are determined to do it. Because we need to learn any lessons that have to be learned and also with a view to ensuring that into the future, if a future pandemic was to arise or another crisis, that we will learn those lessons and respond more effectively,” said the Taoiseach. 

Citing a recent study in The Lancet, the Taoiseach said that overall Ireland did well in respect of the level of excess deaths relative to other countries.

“But of course, it still took a terrible toll on our people, and we do need to have that evaluation of how we did,” he added.

While he would not give a timeline for when such an inquiry would be concluded, he said people would want it completed within a “reasonable timeframe”.

The Taoiseach told The Journal last September that he would like to see the inquiry up and running in the “earlier part” of 2022.

The Covid National Day of Remembrance and Reflection Ceremony will take place in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin today.

The ceremony will remember all those who died during the pandemic and pay tribute to everyone who has contributed to how we have faced and are facing the challenges.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel