While its interim report in August gave an indication of what to expect in the final conclusions of the Special Oireachtas Committee on the Covid-19 Response, the final action of the group before disbandment was the publication of a report on its hearings that gives the government lots to ponder and plenty to act upon. The Committee’s findings will now be referred to various sectoral committees for further consideration.
Ably chaired across 29 evidence-gathering meetings by Michael McNamara, TD, the Committee looked for areas where the response to Covid-19 could and should have been better and, among the conclusions it came to, were that we need a stronger regulatory framework to protect our older population, people in direct provision and low-paid workers like those in meat plants, many of whom do not have access to sick pay. Mr McNamara added: ‘We also need to be able to respond more rapidly to outbreaks through a quick testing and tracing regime.’
Because the majority of older people who died from Covid-19 were in nursing homes, the Committee also recommended greater long-term levels of public health support in order to allow as many as possible of our elderly to be cared for in their communities and away from long-term institutions. The chairman acknowledged that ‘the State has a huge job to do to achieve this, but that is the challenge we now face.’
What is important now is that the government sets about taking timely action on the recommendations.