Terms of reference for Ireland's Covid-19 inquiry ‘almost ready’

Terms Of Reference For Ireland's Covid-19 Inquiry ‘Almost Ready’
The inquiry will examine the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, education system and nursing homes. Photo: PA
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By Cillian Sherlock and Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

New Fine Gael leader Simon Harris has said a memo on the terms of reference for the Covid-19 inquiry is “almost ready” to be brought to Cabinet.

Mr Harris, who was minister for health at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, said the inquiry would be “really important”.


Speaking to reporters at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Galway, he said: “I can point to figures that show that we did relatively well compared to other countries but that doesn’t mean that everything was gotten right and it doesn’t mean that lessons can’t be learned and it doesn’t mean that we cant be better prepared for the next pandemic.”

Asked if he still had all his text messages from that period, he said: “I don’t generally do Government business by WhatsApp and text but of course any relevant documents or information I have would of course be provided in any way shape or form that could be helpful to a Covid inquiry.”

Mr Harris is due to be appointed taoiseach on Tuesday, following the resignation of Leo Varadkar as leader of Fine Gael last month.

Prior to his resignation, Mr Varadkar said he has “some” of his text messages from the pandemic period.


He said: “I’d have some but I would never particularly conduct Government business on WhatsApp or text messages.

“[It would] be more kind of meetings at five o’clock, that type of thing.”

Professor Philip Nolan, the former chairman of the the Government’s virus modelling unit, also told reporters that he does not know if he still has all his text messages from the pandemic.

The inquiry will examine the impacts on the economy, education system and nursing homes as well as the role of politicians and media platforms.


One of the challenges for the inquiry will be finding five people to sit on the evaluation panel.

The Government’s view is that, ideally, the selected people would have had no involvement in managing the pandemic and not expressed prejudicial views.

Mr Varadkar had said the non-statutory inquiry will have some public elements but will not assign blame to any individual.

He also said that it would not be in the best interests of the country to hold a multi-year statutory inquiry which would cost tens of millions of euro.


The view is shared by Tánaiste Micheál Martin who has been critical of the UK’s “adversarial legal inquiry” into the coronavirus pandemic.

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