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17/09/2021

Challenge brought over State's refusal to hold inquiry into Covid-19 nursing home deaths

Challenge brought over State's refusal to hold inquiry into Covid-19 nursing home deaths

A High Court challenge has been launched over the State’s refusal to hold a public investigation into Covid-19 related deaths in care homes.

The action has been brought in behalf of 19 individuals from all over Ireland who are challenging a decision by the Minister for Health on June 28 last not to establish a formal investigation into the circumstances of Covid-19 deaths in care homes in the State.

Most of the applicants had a relative who is recorded as having died from Covid-19 while in a care home in Ireland.

Some of the applicants have experienced what they claim are a range of failures within nursing homes during the pandemic, which they say should be included in the inquiry.

The court heard that the applicants sought the investigation because of their deep concerns about the relative's deaths and the preparedness and response of the care homes.

They also claim that a public investigation into their deaths is required under both the Irish Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights.

Such an investigation they claim would establish the facts, allow learning from events, provide accountability, help rebuild confidence in the sector and prevent a re-occurrence.

They claim the refusal by the State, formally indicated to the applicant's solicitors last month, to hold such an inquiry is contrary to the public interest, is unfair, unreasonable and disproportionate.

Represented by Ronan Lavery SC the applicants have brought judicial review proceedings against the An Taoiseach, the Minister for Health, Minister for Finance, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The seek an order quashing last June's decision not to hold an investigation into covid19 deaths in the State, and damages.
They also seek a declaration that Articles of the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights an investigation into the circumstances of Covid19 deaths in the state's care homes.

They further seek declarations that the refusal to conduct such a probe is unlawful, unconstitutional and in breach of the applicants' rights.

The matter was briefly mentioned, on an ex-parte basis, before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday.

The judge noted that no medical evidence supporting some of the applicants claims that residents had been badly or not properly treated at the hones, had been given to the court.

The judge said that given the issues raised he wanted time to consider the documents in the application and adjourning the matter to later this week.

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