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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Covid Inquiry

I inform the Leader that in the UK, the Covid-19 inquiry is getting down to brass tacks in examining the political decision-making of Boris Johnson’s government during the pandemic and scrutinising the actions taken in combating the virus. Decisions which led to the imposition of the three national lockdowns and the regional restrictions, together with measures such as working from home, the reduction of contact, and the use of face coverings will be examined. The chair, Baroness Heather Hallett, has said that those who suffered during the pandemic would be a part of the inquiry.

This is the fifth time I have raised the issue of the complete absence of a Covid-19 inquiry in this country. The first time I did so was 16 months ago when, in my naivete, I took it for granted that such sweeping interventions into public life would be the subject of some critical appraisal in hindsight. More fool me to expect that the Chief Medical Officer and NPHET and the Cabinet, which handed over the reins of the country to them, would ever deign to admit that they had any mistakes to learn from.

The writing was very much on the wall when the Government decided to wind down its one and only Covid-19 committee, competently chaired by Deputy McNamara, on 8 October 2020, snap-bang in the middle of the pandemic. The role of the committee was to consider and take evidence on the State’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. NPHET had to be dragged kicking and screaming in front of the committee to answer a few questions and a quiet word must have been had, because the order to wrap the committee up came soon thereafter. The Cabinet realised it was inconvenient that there should be such a forum for parliamentarians to which it would be responsible. Vaccinations were pushed on to children, when the data for doing so was inconclusive. We now know of at least one death which resulted from that and who knows how many more there may be.

Now we are on to the next thing. I am sure it is the desire of the Government that we will just let bygones be bygones, sweep it under the carpet, not talk about it, and that in years to come, when we talk of Covid-19, there will be no lessons learned, no recognition of mistakes made or accountability for such.

We will all just shake our heads and say, "Sure, that was awful, wasn't it?" and continue on blithely. It is state-sanctioned gaslighting at national scale and it will not work. The Government should man-up, set up an inquiry and face the music.

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