The news that the government is to establish a COVID-19 inquiry by the middle of the year has been welcomed by Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú who asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to ensure that the families of those who died at Dealgan Nursing Home in Dundalk get ‘answers and closure’.
peaking in Leinster House last week, Deputy Ó Murchú asked for a timeline as to how long the scoping exercise mentioned by the Taoiseach would take.
“Would it be possible to get a timeline on how long this scoping exercise will take? Can we get the detail as soon as possible about the remit and whether we are talking about individual modules, as well as a timeline on the inquiry?
He recalled speaking to the Taoiseach previously about Dealgan House and the 23 people who died there.
“The fact the RCSI Hospital Group took over there makes it different,” he said.
“The families have been promised by Ministers that a mechanism will be provided to provide answers and closure. We need to ensure this happens’.
In response, An Taoiseach said: ‘We are scoping out the Covid inquiry at present. We hope to have it established by the Oireachtas mid-year.
“It will not just be about the State’s response; it will be about the wider response from all society, including the private sector.
‘It is impossible to put a timeframe on it but given the scope and scale, it could take a long time. That is the truth of it. I cannot possibly put a time on it’.
In response to a previous question from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, An Taoiseach confirmed the inquiry would look at how nursing homes dealt with Covid 19 and that the State would examine Covid 19 inquiries were being conducted in other countries.
Speaking afterwards, Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘While we welcome the progress on establishing an inquiry into Covid 19, it has to ensure that those who lost loved ones in nursing homes are front and centre.
‘Families will need to see the details’.
Drogheda TD Deputy Fergus O’Dowd also asked if Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly would meet with the families of the residents of Dealgan House who died during the pandemic again to update them on the inquiry.
“He is well aware of their situation,” he said.
“Twenty-three people died in Dealgan House nursing home, as the Minister well knows, given he met the families, but yet he has not yet agreed to a special inquiry into deaths in that home and other homes about which he has been notified. He has a lot of work to do.”