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Leah Farrell/
lessons to be learned

Covid Inquiry will 'absolutely' reveal lessons to be learned, former health minister says

Simon Harris said whatever form the inquiry takes it will have to enable people to be transparent and forthcoming.

FORMER MINISTER FOR Health, Simon Harris has said the terms of reference for the Covid-19 inquiry will go to Cabinet “shortly” and that the inquiry will reveal things that need to be done better. 

Harris, now Minister for Higher Education, told reporters today that it is “really important” that we have a review of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I think objectively, this country overall did a good job when it came to the Covid pandemic, and I mean that in the broadest possible sense,” Harris said.

“People came together and people pulled together. But I also know that it was a time of great pain for many people and people lost their lives,” he added.

The terms of reference for an inquiry were expected to go to Cabinet before Christmas but have been delayed until this year as a result of unpredictable events in December, the Taoiseach said last month. 

Today, the Irish Times reported that the inquiry is due to be set up in the next 12 weeks and will likely take up to 18 months to complete its work. 

Minister Simon Harris Minister Simon Harris Leah Farrell / Rolling News Leah Farrell / Rolling News / Rolling News

Harris, who was Minister for Health for the initial months of the pandemic before Stephen Donnelly took up the role after the new government formation in the summer of 2020, said it’s important that government examines where it could have done better during the pandemic. 

“It’s really important… that of course we take stock that we see what was done well, and we bank that and we embed it and we remember it for the next pandemic because pandemics will come again,” Harris said.

“Certainly there will be absolutely lessons to be learned, things that need to be done better.

“And also you’ve got to recognise in a pandemic, and I certainly recognise this, that I believe everybody was doing everything they possibly could, to the best of their ability with the information they had at the time,” he added.

Harris said it was for independent experts and not for him to determine what could have been done better. 

He added that the format of the inquiry should be one that “enables people to be transparent, to be forthcoming”.