Covid-19 inquiry should adopt ‘no blame approach’

A draft Government plan for the forthcoming inquiry into Ireland’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, seen by RTÉ News, says it should be “independent, multi-disciplinary, objective and fair and should involve a no blame approach”.

The expert-led panel review is being described as an ‘Independent Pandemic Evaluation’ and will not be a statutory inquiry, with powers to compel witnesses or papers.

It will provide for both public and private evidence gathering.

The review will report to the Taoiseach, by a date yet to be decided.

The review will look at the whole of Government response, the health system preparedness and response, the impacts on the economy, social policy and social equity.

There will be a specific Nursing Home Module.

Members of Government today briefed opposition parties on the template for Terms of Reference.

Call for submissions

When the panel is established, it will make a call for submissions and gather evidence.

Public-evidence giving will be non-adversarial, focused on key themes and topics.

Public engagement will involve submissions and capturing the ‘lived experiences’.

The private evidence will involve what is being called ‘a deeper dive’ and a probe of submitted materials.

The panel will be asked to provide a factual account of the overall strategy and approach to Covid-19, structures and processes, and deliver a whole of Government response to Covid-19.

It will also look at advice to Government, the different phases/waves of the pandemic, the legislative framework, communications across the political spectrum and society.

There will be international comparisons.

The draft review document says the panel will identify lessons, and make recommendations on guiding principles and processes which can strengthen decision-making, and assist in safeguarding civil liberties and democratic processes at times of extreme threats.

Concern over no statutory powers

Aontú Leader Peadar Toibín has expressed reservations about the Government’s planned evaluation of the response to the Covid pandemic.

He is concerned that there are no statutory powers and witnesses cannot be compelled during the course of the 18 months evaluation.

Opposition parties were told this morning that the evaluation might be judge-led.

Mr Toibín said there will need to be a greater focus on the administrative decision making process during the pandemic.

Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane

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